Free sanitary products in Walsall schools
Free sanitary products will be available in all Walsall schools in a bid to tackle ‘period poverty’ and improve performance in the classroom.
Council chiefs said they will go further than government initiatives which focus on secondary schools by also providing support for primary-aged children in Walsall.
But they will not follow Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s example of having free products available in all authority-owned buildings as they said the initiative had not proved successful in reaching vulnerable women.
In February, Linda Allbutt – who founded charity Period Power – told members of the social care and health overview and scrutiny committee girls as young as 10 were using tissues or old rags as a result of struggling families opting to buy food instead of other essentials.
The committee had recommended chiefs agree to have all council buildings provide free products as well as encouraging local businesses to do so.
Councillor Marco Longhi, portfolio holder for health and well-being said: “Another local authority had implemented a number of measures that they believed would impact on period poverty.
“I believe that their own officers’ opinions are that actually it did not achieve by a significant extent the outcomes that they were hoping.
“So, the position with us is we will not be pursuing the scheme implemented in the other local authority but we would do so where we know it would have an impact, which is in Walsall schools including primary as well as secondary.”
Walsall Council’s portfolio holder for business support Bal Chatta added: “We are covering primary schools and offering an extra focus to that which is discussed nationally where the focus is secondary.
“The NHS website states that puberty starts around the age of eight. There is clearly a need for that so I think that’s a really good thing to see in this.
“It is a really good initiative. There is evidence to suggest period poverty does impact results and success at school which then impacts further down the line.”