Scottish Government Pilot
The Scottish Government asked CFINE to operate and coordinate the Access to Sanitary products pilot scheme for six months in 2017-18, through which sanitary products were made available free to all those on low incomes who need them. During the Scottish Government’s Access to Sanitary Products pilot project, it came to light that people in ‘period poverty’ may miss work, school and important appointments due to the lack of finances to purchase sanitary products. Those who struggle to make ends meet rather buy food for the family than tampons or pads.
National Rollout, First in the World!
Partly based on the success of the pilot, the Scottish Government rolled out ASP across Scotland, the first such national free scheme in the world, making free sanitary products available to low income people and in schools, colleges and universities. The 4 Scottish FareShare Regional Centres (FareShare is the UK’s biggest charity tackling food poverty) were contracted by The Scottish Government to promote and make accessible free sanitary products to low income people. This roll out has proved very successful and The Scottish Government has continued this arrangement with FareShare. CFINE operates FareShare Grampian.
An important element of this initiative is to challenge the stigma around menstruation which, of course, is a natural function and no or inappropriate protection is a health and well-being issue. Unfortunately, the pilot identified that menstruation is still a taboo topic, even though it affects more than half of the population.
More Outlets for Free Products
CFINE is looking to recruit further public, third sector and private sector partners to make free sanitary products available to even more of the population. Organisations and businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire which would like to make products accessible, please contact CFINE.
An aspect of the pilot which CFINE has continued is the promotion of reusable sanitary products, both towels and tampons (cups). Using reusable products has financial and environmental, and possibly health, benefits.