A conversation with Every Month Manchester: Period poverty is not on lockdown
We may all be on lockdown but period poverty is not. That is why period poverty charity Every Month are hosting a virtual pub quiz using Facebook Live tonight, Thursday April 2nd at 7:30pm.
Whilst we should be physically distancing ourselves, it’s important to continue supporting charities who have been doing vital work in our communities and continue to do so. In light of this, I talked to Laura Lee, a volunteer at the period poverty charity Every Month Manchester, over the phone to find out how this charity is adapting to work during a pandemic.
Speaking to Laura it’s clear that the beginning of 2020 was met with success as schools are now able to provide period products for free. Laura mentioned that Every Month have recently become a registered charity, another beneficial and exciting step, and they were looking to upscale as more volunteers were getting involved.
Whilst their aims were to “ultimately eliminate period poverty”, this Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the charity has decided to temporarily change their goals. Every Month is currently “working to alleviate period poverty” during this crisis.
Tonight’s pub quiz aims to to get “[their] names out there for after [the pandemic]”, and to encourage donations if people are in a financial position to do so. The first pub quiz will be hosted by Laura on on Facebook live, and as with everything right now can be attended from the comfort of your living room. The evening is sure to provide a much-needed laugh and distraction, and will feature a unique music round – but you’ll have to wait to find out what it will involve.
Laura and I talked about the impacts that Covid-19 is having on charities, like Every Month, which are “more on the ground and deal with day-to-day things.” Laura pointed out that these foodbanks and charities normally “need to be more hands on” meaning they’ve had to adapt to social distancing measures and find ways of continuing to provide their resources.
Normally, Every Month hosts packing parties where they make around 800 packs a month which are distributed to food banks and homeless shelters across Manchester. As this is currently not possible, a few individual volunteers are making these packs and distributing them to local foodbanks.
Laura acknowledged that as schools are closed many children cannot access the freely available menstrual products and are “still in that financial situation where they can’t afford products” meaning these menstrual packs remain essential.
During this UK-wide lockdown, providing period products to those in need is especially important as many people have lost their source of income. “We’re going to see more people needing this help,” Laura explained, so it’s vital that we don’t bury our head in the sand, and instead support charities however we can.
Some positive news during this crisis is that, since talking to Laura it has been confirmed that the Department of Education scheme providing free period products to schools will continue throughout the pandemic.
The donations raised by tonight’s pub quiz will be used to buy products needed for Every Month’s menstrual packs each of which contains 5 applicator tampons, 5 non-applicator tampons and 5 pads because “flexibility is key.” Everyone who menstruates has a preference of period products and may use different products at different times during their period so its important for these packs to allow for that freedom and comfort.
The packs also include chocolate – a menstruating essential. Laura mentioned they used to add hot chocolate sachets but got feedback that many “can’t put the kettle on” so were unable to enjoy them. So Every Month “developed as people need you to” and switched these sachets out for chocolate. It’s reassuring to hear that they can adapt to feedback from those using these packs, to make them as beneficial as possible and is testament to their work and dedication over the years.
Whilst the ways in which charities are operating needs to adapt to coronavirus, their values do not. Laura emphasised Every Month supports “any person experiencing period poverty, that’s one of our key points” as periods are not gendered. It’s important for these charities to be intersectional to ensure that those who need the support feel they can access it.
Whilst in lockdown, don’t forget that charities are still doing vital work and need your continued support. There will be more virtual events to come to raise awareness of period poverty and Every Month Manchester so “on the other side we’re back and bigger than ever.”
Laura recounted period packing parties which sound like a laugh, and I’m hoping to get involved in these once they resume. To find out more head to their website for ways to support during the pandemic or for information about getting involved afterwards.
We may being losing track of the days of the week, but don’t forget to tune in to Every Month Manchester’s pub quiz tonight, Thursday April 2nd at 7:30pm over on their Facebook page.