In this blog, we chat with Rachel from the period poverty social enterprise, Bloody Good Period. Rachel is the Social Media Manager and here she chats to us all about the rest if the BGP team, what BGP do and all about period poverty.
What is Bloody Good Period and how did it all begin?
Bloody Good Period works to end period poverty by giving period products to those who can’t afford them and providing long-term menstrual education to those less likely to access it. We also campaign for menstrual equity and to get people talking about periods. Periods are completely normal and absolutely essential to life on this planet. They should not be a subject of shame or embarrassment.
Our founder Gabby was volunteering at a local drop-in centre for asylum seekers in 2016. She noticed that there were no pads or tampons being given out and was told that these items were only given out in ‘emergencies’. Every period is an emergency when you don’t have access to the products that you need. People won’t ask month in, month out for products that are hidden away. Off the back of this, Gabby started to collect donations. These were initially collected via a whip-round on her personal Facebook page. From there, the organisation has grown and grown. We are now partnered with 25 drop-ins for asylum seekers and refugees.
Who are you helping and what problems are they facing?
We give period supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and others who can’t afford them. Asylum seekers receive just £37.75 per week to live on. To put things into perspective, this isn’t even enough to cover the basics for an adult. If you have a heavy period, it can cost a quarter of that.
Why does period poverty exist in 2019?
It’s bloody shocking that it does. Period poverty is of course linked to the wider issue of poverty. If you can’t afford to feed yourself and your family, you can’t afford pads either – regardless of how cheap they are. No-one should have to choose between pads and food. Period supplies aren’t cheap – but they are a necessity. The people we work with often report heavy and irregular periods as a result of the trauma they have been through.
Beyond donations, what else is BGP doing to fundraise and spread awareness of the issues it’s tackling?
We do all kinds of fundraising. Some of the things we have done include: Partnering with Liberty London to collect donations for International Women’s Day and running our ‘stuff a virtual stocking’ campaign for our Festive Period over Christmas 2018. We’ve also held two ‘Bloody Funny’ comedy nights. Most of all though, we talk about periods. We have all kinds of thought-provoking art created for us by our Creative Network of artists, and we use our social media presence to spread the word that periods are normal and healthy. It’s OK to talk about them and we should.
Who makes up the BGP team?
We have Gabby who is our founder and CEO. I run our social media and we’ve just appointed an Operations and Volunteer Co-ordinator. None of it would happen without our bloody brilliant volunteer team of over 100 people, who do everything from prepping deliveries for drop-ins to running fundraising and supporting others to do collections. They’re bloody amazing.
Logistically, how does it all work?
Donations come in (straight from supporters or via our Amazon wishlist) to a rented storage unit in Alexandra Palace. Our volunteers sort those donations and pack them into deliveries for our drop-ins. You can see updates from the warehouse most weeks on our social media. Meanwhile, others are fundraising, organising collections and spreading the bloody word!
What does the future hold for BGP?
Whilst we’re thrilled about recent announcements that will definitely make a difference (such as the provision of free products in primary and secondary schools) we also want to see a fundamental societal shift in how we talk about periods. We want the shame and embarrassment surrounding them to be eliminated. Menstruation should never be a barrier to anyone participating fully in life or society. Only then will we have what American campaigner Jennifer Weiss-Wolf has called menstrual equity. There have been, as yet, no policy changes in what’s provided to refugees or asylum seekers. So there is still plenty to bloody do!
Thank you so much to Rachel for this blog! You can follow Bloody Good Period on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you wish find out more, make a donation or become a BGP volunteer then head here. Join in the #PeriodPowerful conversation with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.