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Everything you need to know about 'period poverty' and the organisation helping to tackle it in Dublin

“People’s first response has always been, ‘I never thought about this as a need. We just take it for granted that everyone gets on with it!’”

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MOST WOMEN CAN agree that periods are an annoyance at the best of times. They can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable and sore, which in turn can curtail your productivity and ability to go about your day-to-day life.

But for some women, periods are more than an biological nuisance – they’re a financial burden. A quick glance at an online supermarket reveals that brand name sanitary products can cost anything between €2.69 and €4.95 per standard pack.

This adds up, particularly when you take into account the fact that a woman can easily go through more than one pack per month. Forced to make the choice between basic essentials like food and tampons, some women will choose to forego sanitary products and resort to other means.

There’s a term for this: ‘period poverty’.

Period poverty refers to “when women are struggling to feed themselves, their families, heat their home, and afford the necessary sanitary products to keep themselves clean”.

Here in Ireland, it can affect women and girls who are struggling financially, those in direct provision and those who are availing of homelessness and food bank services.

While such women may have previously struggled in silence before, their plight has received mainstream attention of late and organisations have been established to low-income or homeless women gain access to adequate sanitary care. (Scotland recently launched a pilot scheme offering free tampons and pads to low-income women and girls in Aberdeen.)

The Homeless Period Dublin is one such organisation. Its founder Petra tells DailyEdge.ie that she set it up in December 2016 in response to the homelessness crisis.

I saw the volume of women homeless in Dublin and witnessed their lack of sanitation during the day, as they had to leave the homeless shelter they were using. (If they were able to get a bed there the night before.)
I wondered what assistance there was for women with their period and found that there was no initiative at the time in Ireland. So I contacted The Homeless Period and asked could I set up a sanitary donation initiative in Ireland under their umbrella and they supported the idea so it started.

Since then, Petra says the response has been “overwhelming” with people eager to help once they have been made aware of the problem.

People’s first response has always been, ‘I never thought about this as a need. We just take it for granted that everyone gets on with it!’

The Homeless Period Dublin has since partnered with a number of companies and businesses around the city to collect donations. “Companies have been very generous to allow members of the public to drop in donations and to update me when they have a donation ready for collection,” she explained.

They collect sanitary towels, tampons, wipes and panty liners, and pass these donations on to other charitable organisations assisting both low-income and homeless women.

The organisation told DailyEdge.ie that donations have become “sporadic” and so they are urging people to donate, if possible, to one of their many drop-off locations around the city.

These locations include DIT, The Simon Community, Tropical Popical, Urbana and YMCA Ireland.

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It might be less than a fiver to you, but it could make a big difference to a woman in need.

Follow The Homeless Period Dublin on Facebook here.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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