At South Lanarkshire College we are committed to ensuring there are no barriers to education. As such, we have continued to raise awareness of period poverty since 2017 and provide free sanitary products to all staff and students.
As part of this commitment sanitary products continue to be available from free dispensing machines in toilets through the campus for all staff and students, including in gender neutral and fully accessible toilets. In addition to this, the College also creates holiday packs which are available prior to term time holidays such as Easter, Summer break and Christmas, as well as shorter holidays throughout the year. These packs consist of a mix of products and can be collected from multiple points throughout the College, without having to request them from a member of staff. We believe it is essential that staff and students can collect these products as and when suits them without having to speak with someone to arrange collection.
To highlight this work at the time, a dedicated poster campaign was created and shared providing details on where products could be collected and to reiterate that these items were available to all staff and students.
Due to restrictions as a result of the pandemic we had to ensure that these products were still available while staff and students worked remotely. To facilitate this, we partnered with Hey Girls to provide delivery of sanitary products direct to home addresses. The order process was straightforward and accessible with Hey Girls developing a short survey that respondents could complete, providing details of the type of products they would prefer. These items were then delivered direct to the respondent free of charge.
As we started to provide blended learning, the College continued to provide this remote service in partnership with Hey Girls, in addition to providing on campus products. We fully intend to continue providing both services for the foreseeable future.
The feedback received to date has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly during lockdown when many staff and students were unable to access these items free of charge.
Promotion of this service has been available through multiple channels including staff and student newsletters, social media, poster campaigns, student handbook and surveys. In reference to moving forward we would be keen to create a new survey to review as to whether there are any further measures we can put in place to help assist staff and students.
The College is also keen to promote sustainable alternatives as part of the availability of free sanitary products. This includes menstrual cups, reusable period pants and reusable pads. Prior to lockdown, there were several occasions where information stalls were set up in the College’s main atrium to raise awareness of these products and provide access to these free products. As restrictions ease, we are keen to return to this way of promoting the service.
We are also looking to build upon our partnerships with Hey Girls and within the local community, especially in relation to the Access to Free Sanitary Provision in South Lanarkshire. Previously we have shared the social media messaging and survey compiled by the local authority, which is aimed to help shape future sanitary provision in South Lanarkshire College. Looking ahead we are liaising with South Lanarkshire Council about a member of the Community Engagement Team visiting the campus to consult directly with students on Access to Free Sanitary Provision throughout South Lanarkshire.
Particularly in the current economic climate with many students and staff facing increasing living costs, we believe it is now more important than ever that everyone can access these essential products. South Lanarkshire College looks forward to continuing with these important partnerships and services to ensure free and equitable access to sanitary products in an accessible and dignified way.
Rose Harkness, Head of Student Services