It is a man’s world, even in 21st century Scotland, with male decision makers making up 70% of the Civil Service, it’s vital that we highlight the horrifying indignity and inequalities, that women who are faced with homelessness live with, to everyone who can make a difference. Makeshift sanitary products, such as socks and cobbled together tampons, are their reality on a regular basis. In fact, 60% of a sample group of women we support have no clean underwear before, during or after their period.
At Simon Community Scotland, we engage, listen and respond to the most vulnerable. Our Street Team, who work on the frontline, providing vital support to those sleeping rough, hear these horrifying and needless insights on a daily basis. As a result we have been responding in a discrete way to meet the needs of women for some years now.
We realised our discretion doesn’t challenge the issue nearly enough and so in August this year we launched our ‘Period Friendly Campaign’ to both meet the practical needs of the most marginalised women in our society. We also want to highlight the issue more and galvanise support of the entire country to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, and the women we represent, to end this needless indignity.
Meeting people where they are at and building relationships is the secret to our longstanding success as Scotland’s largest homelessness provider. We listened and responded to the needs of the women we support and created ‘Period Friendly Packs’. Going beyond just the products themselves and also supplying: sanitary towels, tampons, wipes, pants, and even a bar of chocolate.
Our role in creating the campaign is to establish a platform to invite the support of many stakeholder groups: the general public, whom we affectionately call ‘Period Friendly Pals’ who volunteer with us to establish ‘Period Friendly Points’ - public toilet facilities where we can set up stations of these products for easy access to those who need them. Then there are those who donate supplies of products, organisations such as Glasgow University, through their ‘ Red Alert Appeal’ and many others who have linked arms with us to positively impact lives. We also want to look wider to identify key influencers who share our vision, such as MSP Monica Lennon, and the incredible work she is doing nationally to highlight the plight of all women’s period poverty.
The overriding message is that solving this issue takes courage and requires the collective hearts and minds of people right across Scotland who continue to challenge the inequality of opportunity as they go about their daily lives. This is a battle that we can win by working together.