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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Crimson Wave

Hannah Barnes

A few months ago a friend and I heard about a charity, The Monthly Gift, who work with people in our local community, in order to create period packs for homeless women. The Monthly Gift were hosting an event in Manchester town center, where people could come along, watch a movie, have some snacks and join in with the period pack production line.

My original plan was to go along and help out at the Friday night event, but as anyone whose a regular here will know, my favourite thing in the world is cancelled plans. So, when it turned out my friend had double booked, I was perfectly happy to stay home instead.

Neither of us though, were happy with the idea of having done nothing at all to help the homeless women in our local area. So, instead of attending The Monthly Gift's event evening, we decided to put our own period packs together and distribute them with the help of Petrus - who help out homeless men and women near us.

Homeless women on their periods isn't something that many of us will have thought much about. I was vaguely aware of the problems they face, before hearing about The Monthly Gift, but after researching things further, I began to realise just how huge a problem shark week can be without access to all the things I take for granted.

As we all know, sanitary pads, tampons and panty liners aren't actually necessary items for women, but as we all love luxury so much, we insist on buying them once a month, often doing nothing with them but flushing them down the loo, for want of a better use (n.b this is a joke, don't start flushing your luxurious sanitary wear down the loo. Have some respect for the environment, jeez).

Or at least, that's what the government thinks.

Sanitary products are, in fact, pretty much essential for all cisgendered women and some transmen - unless you're brave enough to free bleed, which is a hugely personal decision and one that many people will never be comfortable with.

When you come right down to it, we use sanitary wear in order to stop our periods offending other people, those same periods that  help facilitate LIFE ON EARTH I might add. And it is hard enough for those in a stable home environment to deal with this shit show, let alone those vulnerable women on the fringes of society. Whether it's homeless women, low income women or even women on benefits - no one at the top is taking into account how classing these necessary items as luxury products effects those who are all ready worst off in society.

Yes, it might piss me off that the luxury tax increases my monthly expenditure on these items, but it's the double standard that makes me red in the face, I can still comfortably afford to buy and use these products.

Women with little or no money don't have that luxury, the added cost in tax could be what keeps them from being able to purchase any defense at all against Aunt Flo. Periods are bad enough without having to sit in your sodden underwear for days on end, free bleeding because there are no other options available to you. Equally, living without a home is hard enough without having to sit in your sodden underwear for days on end, free bleeding because there are no other options available to you.

That's all there is to it. These are not luxury items, they're vital and should be made available to all homeless, vulnerable and low income women for free. Until then, however, my friend and I are going to do whatever we can in our area, and you should too!

It's so easy to put these kinds of packs together, we included 8 pads or tampons, 2 liners and some chocolate and paracetamol in each and we managed to make around 30 packs for our first batch. Since then, we've been asking for donations across social media and the response has been incredible.

If you'd like to donate anything at all, please get in touch with me today. You can send over pads, tampons, liners, chocolate treats or transfer some cash for us to purchase things on your behalf. Alternatively, get your friends together, get collecting donations from work, start spreading the word and team up with your local homeless charities to start helping the women near you.

We'll also be hosting an event at Touchstones on 11th February, where you can come along and help put the packs together, bring in your donations and find out more about what we're doing! We'd love to see you there - for any more info, or to let us know you'll be there, get in touch today.

If you'd like to help in anyway, or have an idea for a new way we can raise awareness and donations, let me know in the comments section. 

You can help us out with a monetary donation here - any amount however bid or small is hugely appreciated. 

Hannah Barnes / Author & Editor

I keep myself busy with my small business; The Loft Gifts, the period poverty charity I run; The Crimson Wave, writing here and for vaious platforms and a growing menagerie of household pets.


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