It has been on my mind recently that A Place For Parents should be more than simply the inane ramblings of a 40 something, exhausted Mama and with so much local interest I think it’s time I used this space as a ‘call to action’.
If it reaches one person, that waterfall is always possible.
With Christmas upon us, it’s important to champion causes close to not only our hearts but also our homes. Let’s not get caught up in Christmas excess but rather, see where we can make a difference to people on our own doorstep.
So first up is The Red Box Project in Rugby and the very lovely Olivia Le Poidevin. Olivia wanted to do something important for her community and after much consideration, chose to launch The Red Box Project for girls living in Rugby and the surrounding area.
Period Poverty may feel like just another contemporary buzz phrase but in actual fact it is a very real problem. It is estimated that 1/10 girls struggle to access sanitary protection with 1/7 simply unable to afford it. As the need for Food Banks continues to grow, it stands to reason that some young girls will have no access to simple hygiene products like sanitary towels and tampons, items the rest of us take for granted.
Period poverty has a huge knock on effect. Some girls will use lunch money to buy sanitary products and when regularly missing meals will find their concentration and ability to attend to their education impaired. Some will miss school altogether.
There are also serious risks to health without unlimited access to sanitary protection. There is an increased risk of urinary tract infection, toxic shock syndrome (when young girls use the same product for too long or use the incorrect size) and even reproductive infections which can lead to infertility.
The Red Box Project exists nationally and there are currently 140 projects across the country providing support to girls through schools and other clubs and societies where the need is recognised. There are currently 1300 boxes in schools and this number is rising.
Olivia has a very open ‘period policy’ in her own home where her children and husband Chris will talk and ask open and honest questions about periods and sanitary products. Olivia believes that this type of communication is important in normalizing periods and that poor communication between parents and children is responsible for part of the problem.
Be it generational or cultural, some parents are embarrassed to talk about periods and therefore young girls are afraid to ask. The great sadness is that this kind of silence may well already represent a significant safeguarding and child protection risk. The Red Box Project is all about reducing the stigma in the long term although Olivia admits, it will take time.
Education is also important. It is estimated that 26% of girls do not know what to do when their periods start. The Red Box Project is very much about opening up the conversation about periods so that these same young girls know that there is support out there. It’s not just about girls either, it is essential to normalize periods by involving boys in this very same conversation.
So how does it work?
The Red Box Project aims to put its boxes in schools and other organisations where girls may be struggling to access sanitary protection elsewhere. The Red Box Project Rugby relies on local donations and there are a number of businesses and other organisations who offer collection points for anyone who would like to donate.
You can get involved by setting up your own collection point or by donating sanitary products via The Red Box. If you work in a school or youth organisation locally, Olivia will happily come in to speak to staff and children about the importance of The Red Box. Olivia is always looking for volunteers to collect and pack up donations. You can even donate your own ‘Red Box’ to the cause.
For those wanting to support The Red Box Project Rugby be sure to follow them on Facebook for a full list of collection points. To contact Olivia Le Poidevin direct, please email firstname.lastname@example.org