Diss-based social enterprise Hey Girls looking to combat period poverty in south Norfolk
The head of a Diss social enterprise said it is “unacceptable” that almost one in five young girls have struggled to afford period products since the start of the cost-of-living crisis.
Celia Hodson, founder and CEO of Victoria Road-based Hey Girls, which aims to combat period poverty, made the comments after statistics revealed that 19 per cent of girls between the ages of 14 and 21 have struggled to afford products since the start of 2022. It is feared the figure could worsen should the cost-of-living crisis not be addressed.
Mrs Dodson, who is from Eye, said: “It is unacceptable that almost one in five young girls are now struggling to pay for such a basic necessity as period products.
“No-one should be left to struggle to pay for something perfectly natural – pads and tampons are not a luxury.
“People are having to turn to unsafe alternatives because they can’t afford to buy food or pay their bills. That is never okay. Our family has experienced period poverty and it is an ordeal we would never wish on anyone.
“It is vital that more is done to help young people and ensure they can live their life without the fear of having to use unsafe and unsanitary alternatives during their period.”
The poll of 1,000 UK girls aged between 14 and 21, carried out by children’s charity Plan International UK, revealed that 28 per cent struggle to purchase period products, while 19 per cent reported being unable to afford products in 2022.
Young people without access to period products regularly miss out on school.
The figures have been echoed by further research by Water Aid, which revealed 24 per cent of women in the UK and their families have struggled to afford period products in the last year.
Many feel forced to use unsafe products such as socks, bread and newspaper as a result.
Mrs Hodson, 60, founded Hey Girls with her daughters Kate Smith and Bec Shutt, both in their 30s, back in 2018, operating on a buy-one-donate-one model, with every box of products purchased matched with a donation to community partners.
More than 21 million products have been donated in the last four year, including to women’s refuges, foodbanks and homeless shelters.
The products are designed to be safer for use than most well-known brands, which often use harmful chemicals such as bleach, toxins and perfumes.