Socks and newspapers as tampons… ‘Period pack’ initiatives to aid Manchester’s poor and homeless women

The founders of Greater Manchester’s ‘period pack’ initiatives will join forces to help the women on the streets and in poverty in the city who cannot afford sanitary products.

Rosy Candlin, 22, is the founder of ‘Every Month’, a campaign calling to help women who sacrifice hygiene during their period and suffer discomfort in order to feed their families, pay bills or buy fuel.

Driven by the Tampon Tax debate, and following a ‘free bleeding’ experiment to see what going without the products was like, she is now determined to turn her initiative into a charity to spread the word.

She told MM: “It’s a nightmare. I did some research and 43 per cent of women in Manchester who have part-time jobs live underneath the national living wage.

“Food banks don’t have as many sanitary items as people need. It just seemed like a really obvious flaw.

“Going without sanitary products is awful. When I tried I lasted less than a day. You can’t do anything, you can’t go anywhere.”

The Theology graduate got to work fundraising in her final year of university in Edinburgh by creating a page.

As a keen stand-up comedian, she also took the opportunity at the end of her gigs to ask her audience for tampon and sanitary towel donations.

Now that she has returned to Manchester, she has just finished putting together her first city packs for Compassion Food Bank in Moss Side, with plans to send some out to Salford too.

“I put them together on my living room floor,” she said. “It’s simply a brown paper bag, and I put ten tampons, ten sanitary towels and a hot chocolate sachet inside – I thought the hot chocolate was essential!”

Rosy joins a growing number of women who want to take this much over-looked issue to the next level.

Christina Ward, also 22, set up Manchester’s Monthly Gift initiative a year ago.

She told MM: “I first got thinking about it at university after a conversation with a male friend of mine about what homeless women did when they were on their period.

“It’s the first time I’d ever thought about it. My friend thought we could get tampons on the NHS.”

The law graduate was shocked by demeaning reports of homeless women without access to hygienic sanitary products using dirty socks and newspapers to cope, and was spurred on by growing homelessness figures in the city.

Christina said: “Every time I’ve come back to Manchester from university the amount of people on the streets just seems to be getting worse and worse.”

She has now built up a network of homeless charities in Manchester, such as Mustard Tree, to which she donates period packs in person whenever she can.

She said: “They are really needed, and the charities say the packs go really quickly.”

Rosy and Christina now plan to team up to take their initiatives into the registered charity realm and spread their work far and wide, with the key, they say, being to reach out to young people and get them engaged.

“The more people talk about it, the more it helps,” said Rosy, who has started to go into Manchester schools to talk about her campaign in assemblies.

And following Brexit, Rosy told MM fears Manchester’s homelessness and poverty crisis is only set to get worse.

She said: “Since we’ve had a Tory government, the amount of food banks nationally has increased so much. Austerity is so real. And now that we’ve left Europe, I definitely think it’s going to be an uphill battle.”

Find out more about the period pack campaigns by visiting the Every Month and The Monthly Gift MCR pages on Facebook.

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