‘Many are skipping meals to afford products’: Community groups appeal for donations to help tackle period poverty

Tricky Period provides free kits for those who need them. Photograph: The Tricky Period / Facebook

Two grassroots community organisations are asking Hackney residents to donate items including tampons, pads and underwear to help fight period poverty in the borough.

Women-led collective Akka has partnered up with Streets Kitchen initiative Tricky Period, which provides free period products to homeless people and those experiencing poverty, for this month’s Shoebox Appeal.

Period poverty results in a wide range of issues, from people hiding away during menstruation to significant healthcare risks from being forced to use makeshift items instead of period products.

Residents can donate shoeboxes filled with items, or items without a shoebox, at locations across the borough (see below).

In a statement, Akka said: “Many of those in need are forced to use toilet paper, newspaper and even leaves as a substitute to period products. Also, many have no choice other than to miss a meal to buy products, shoplift, skip work during their period or even leave products in too long risking serious health consequences.

“No-one should have to face the humiliation of choosing between eating and period products. Akka and Tricky Period are committed to supporting people forced into this position, threatening their health and wellbeing.”

The organisations are urgently looking for period pads, with people frequently asking for super and night sanitary pads, but also for tampons and pads of other strengths.

Intimate wipes, disposal bags, packs of knickers and tampons, with or without an applicator, are also being sought. Residents are reminded that out of date tampons can cause irritation and infection.

Other items urgently required are:

  • Roll-on Deodorants
  • Shampoos and conditioner
  • Soaps
  • Makeup
  • Brushes
  • Non-perishable foods such as chocolate, biscuits and soft drinks

Donations of menstrual cups or reusable pads are not accepted by Akka and Tricky Period, who advise donating ethically produced or organic products such as Freda or Natracare.

Also not accepted are any medicines, alcoholic drinks, foods, hand sanitiser, tools, knives, needles, corkscrews, razor blades, perfumes or aerosols, or nuts or nut-based products.

Akka added: “We really cannot accept anything that’s not in its original unopened packaging. We need to know what we are giving out. Most manufacturers display this information on the packaging rather than on the individual item.”

A 2017 Plan International UK survey of 1,004 girls found that one in ten are unable to afford period products, with 42 per cent forced to substitute them with things such as toilet paper, socks and newspaper.

In the same survey, more than a quarter of girls said they had used a period product for longer than its intended use, while 48 per cent of girls aged 14-21 in the UK said they were embarrassed by their periods.

You can drop off donations:

  • by 26 March at Eastern Curve Garden, 13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF, from Tuesday to Friday between 2 and 6pm
  • by 23 March at Well Space Community, 241 Well Street, E9 6RG, Tuesdays between 4:30 and 6pm
  • on 21 March Sunday outside Hackney Central Library, 1 Reading Lane, E8 1GQ, between 11am and 1pm.

People can also drop by the Eastern Curve Garden between 2-6pm to help assemble the shoe boxes.

Town Hall health boss Cllr Chris Kennedy said: “This is a great project, and following the success of the shoeboxes at Christmas I am really pleased that Akka and Tricky Period launched another appeal in the week of International Women’s Day.

“No-one should have to choose between feeding themselves and getting period products.”