The problem of homeless women and the difficulty of sanitary care during their menstruation will be addressed by students at the University of Manchester. Student Action, a volunteering branch within the Students’ Union, is launching Time of the Month (TOTM), a campaign to distribute sanitary products, such as tampons, underwear, sanitary pads and baby wipes to women facing homelessness in Manchester.
The campaign is set to launch on 25th February 2016—the same day of the student-led “Reclaim the Night” march which aims to tackle violence against women and advocates a safer environment for female students. After the march, the TOTM campaign will seek to raise awareness and donations for the project by asking for sanitary products as entrance fees.
In her statement to The Mancunion, Vice-Chair of Student Action and co-ordinator of the campaign, Jodie Louise Connor, said that her idea of setting up the TOTM in Manchester was inspired by a similar campaign entitled #TheHomelessPeriod, in which three interns working at Bartle Bogle Hegarty—an advertisement company in London—sought to draw public attention to the issue of homeless women and their menstruation cycles, a topic that has not been widely discussed. The campaign influenced students to set up their own sanitary collections to be set up across universities. “It was really great,” Connor says, “we had loads of things donated but then it hit me that all of those things would have ran out soon after that.
“We all hate getting our period and most of us like to speak as little as possible about them, but we need to realise the grim reality of how bad they must be for the women who don’t have the means of dealing with them the way we do.”
Although, as announced in the Autumn Statement, tampon tax will be used to fund women’s shelters across the country. The problem of sanitation for women, particularly for rough sleepers, remains to be addressed. This is why Student Action, Connor and a group of student volunteers have put it upon themselves to help raise awareness. Talking about the origins of the project, Connor tells The Mancunion: “the amount of people that have said to me “you know, I never thought of that, I never even thought about what homeless women would do on their period!” And that’s exactly it. I didn’t realise until #TheHomelessPeriod launched and it’s such an important thing to be aware of.”
“We had the idea to launch it with Reclaim [the Night] because it just seemed like the perfect timing,” says Connor. “In February, everyone is all fired up with feminism which is really great and I think that works to our advantage massively, given the nature of the campaign.”
After the Reclaim the Night march, the co-ordinators of TOTM and a group of volunteers will be selling handmade tampon badges at the launch, with the profits being sent to Emmeline’s Pantry Parlour, a food and clothes bank for women who have suffered domestic violence based in Manchester. The co-ordinators have formulated plans to arrange donation collection points all around campus in the last week of every month, with two permanent collection bins all year round.
If you want to get involved or find out more information on the “Time of the Month” campaign, please visit their Facebook page: Time of the Month Manchester.