Durham University launches period dignity pilot scheme

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Durham University have announced that they are launching a pilot project aimed at supporting period dignity in students and staff by providing free menstrual health products, which will run from 6 November across the remaining academic year.

A statement released by the University said: “As part of our work to improve health and wellbeing for staff and students, we’re providing free period products to help tackle period poverty in our community.

“The products are being introduced within toilets and washrooms at locations throughout the University.”

Students will be able to access free period products across the rest of the academic year

Period products, such as sanitary pads and tampons, have been introduced to toilets in 13 locations across the University. Baskets of period products can be found at the Calman Learning Centre, the Palatine Centre, the Mountjoy Centre, Maiden Castle Sports Centre, Elvet Riverside, Pemberton Rooms on Palace Green, Green Lane Cottages, and across the Biosciences, Chemistry and Engineering Departments.

Durham University have also invested in ‘Aunt Flow’ dispensing machines, containing both sanitary pads and tampons, which have been installed in some of the University’s busiest areas.

In the Bill Bryson Library, an ‘Aunt Flow’ dispensing machine can be found in the accessible toilet inside Small Island Coffee. Another is situated in the Business School’s Level 2 female toilets, and in the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), period products can be found in the ground floor female toilets.

Citron Hygiene, the providers of ‘Aunt Flow’ dispensing machines say they have a capacity for 50 paper-packaged “durable” pads, and 50 plastic-free tampons, which will be regularly restocked.

“Students and staff should not suffer due to an inability to afford safe menstrual products”

HEATHER PRICE

Speaking to Palatinate, Heather Price, Founder and President of Girl Up Durham, commented: “Under the cost-of-living crisis, rates of period poverty have risen as more people than ever are unable to afford the products necessary to manage their period, forcing many to resort to unhygienic and uncomfortable alternatives.

“We at Girl Up Durham believe that the mental health, physical wellbeing, and educational and professional experience of students and staff should not suffer due to an inability to afford safe menstrual products.”

In August, MoneySavingExpert reported that across a lifetime, someone who menstruates could use around 10,500 period products. They also reported that the cost of reputedly high quality period products could be anything up to £3,990.

As the period dignity scheme is a pilot project, the University plans to evaluate its success at the end of the academic year 2023/24, with a view to making it a permanent resource for staff and students struggling to access often expensive period product necessities.

Ms. Price further commented that: “We applaud Durham University’s period dignity scheme in its effort to remove this definitive barrier for those who menstruate.

We hope to see the provision of free period products expanded into every University building bathroom as the scheme transitions from pilot to permanent measure.”

Anyone wishing to make a comment or ask a question about the scheme, is invited to email hr.od@durham.ac.uk.

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