De-stigmatising conversations about menstruation in Bristol: All products photo

14 Nov 2019

De-stigmatising conversations about menstruation in Bristol

The Period Friendly Bristol initiative aims to eradicate period poverty

Schools and education leaders joined together this week for Bristol’s first Period Friendly Schools Summit to inform work being led by the Real Period Project, City to Sea, Bristol City Council and Period Friendly Bristol that will create a Bristol standard education toolkit around periods and menstruation.

The event is part of Period Friendly Bristol, a One City initiative involving over 100 partners. The Period Friendly Bristol vision is to eradicate period poverty and to be a city of period dignity, in which everyone has access to menstrual products and periods and menstruation are destigmatised.

A recent survey from Ginger Comms, the Bloody Big Brunch and Hey Girls has shown that close to 3 in 10 women (27%) are unable to afford menstrual products. In Bristol, this jumps up to 41.2% - the third highest rate of period poverty across England, Scotland and Wales. The Period Friendly Bristol initiative is committed to reducing this rate and supporting those who are affected.

Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families, said: “Our vision is to make Bristol the first period friendly city in England, and potentially globally, – one that gives dignity and rights to those people who have periods. Nobody should be disadvantaged simply for having a period.

“Providing people who have periods with access to affordable, sustainable menstrual products is just the start. We are excited to be leading this programme with Real Period Project and City to Sea that will educate schools on a wider level. We are working with teachers and head-teachers to ensure policies around menstruation are supportive and inclusive.”

Launched in September 2016 by Mayor Marvin Rees, the City Office helps to bring together organisations and additional resources to facilitate city-wide actions.

In January 2019, 200 civic leaders, activists and citizens agreed at the City Gathering to commit to making period poverty a top priority.

Since making the pledge in 2018, an education programme is being produced collaboratively with Bristol City Council, The Real Period Project and City to Sea.

Emily Stewart, Director and Co-Founder of The Real Period Project said, "It is fantastic to be doing this work in a city that really recognises the problems faced by people who menstruate and who are willing to do something positive about it. We are working with schools, young people, parents, youth workers and school nurses to create effective guidelines and we're excited to see how Bristol can lead the way in promoting period dignity in schools."

The programme not only encourages the de-stigmatisation of the conversation about menstruation, but also seeks to educate on the sustainable menstrual products available to those who have periods.

Jasmine Tribe, Campaigns Co-ordinator at City to Sea said, “Not many people know that one pack of period pads contains the same amount of plastic as five carrier bags! Because periods have been a taboo subject for so long, it’s common that people aren’t aware of all the plastic-free options now available, and how to dispose of products in an environmentally-friendly way.

“It really is time to rethink periods. We’re proud to be working in a city that is prioritising education on such an important subject, in a way that is sustainable and accessible to all.”

An engagement programme spearheaded by a survey and short video has also been delivered to young people via social media. The video has received over 2,000 views and the survey has been filled in by over 200 young people. Their input is invaluable in the discussions surrounding policy and change in the city.

The Bristol City Office encourages partners from across the city to come together and contribute to this immediate and long-term challenge facing Bristol.