The Homeless Period Imperial
What would you do if given a choice between having a meal or hygienically keeping blood from staining your clothes? This is a choice that many homeless women face on a monthly basis. Sanitary items are deemed a ‘luxury’ by the government and are therefore not provided by homeless shelters in the same way as, say, condoms. Often with limited access to only the most rudimentary facilities in unclean public toilets, homeless women are often faced with no option but to use a torn-up rag to staunch the blood flow or simply to suffer the indignity of wearing stained and damp clothes. Most women will recognise the irritation of a sudden and unexpected and arrival of your period, and even to those of us with the funds to buy tampons and easy access to our own clean bathrooms it can be a massive annoyance – in short, a pain in the…womb.
The Homeless Period is an initiative started by 3 interns who met at a London advertising agency. The initiative believes that the government should give homeless shelters a yearly allowance to buy sanitary items, so that they can be available for homeless women in the same way as condoms, or as razors are for men. Far from an optional luxury, sanitary items are unavoidably necessary for many women’s hygiene, dignity and mental health. While struggling to stay warm and find enough to eat, the added challenge of menstruation is not optional. But we can do something to help.
There is now a branch of The Homeless Period at Imperial, and we will be holding an inaugural Homeless Period Imperial week beginning on the 20 March 2017. The aim is to collect as many sanitary items as possible for donation to Spires, a homeless shelter in Lambeth, South London. Collection boxes will be around Imperial for you to donate tampons and sanitary towels for the collection, or you can donate via https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/homeless-period-imperial.
In preparation for Homeless Period Imperial week we are running two competitions!
1) A very special prize will be available for the person who collects and donates the most tampons and sanitary towels to the collection by the 26 March 2017
2) To break the stigma and embarrassment associated with men buying sanitary items, there will be a second prize for the person who shares the most photos of men buying sanitary items to the Homeless Period Imperial Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/homelessperiodimperial/) tagged #manup. Men should be celebrated for being brave and secure enough to go and buy sanitary items themselves. Helping the homeless is not only for women! Go grab your best and bravest male friend and drag them off to the nearest chemist to snap a photo. Then donate the sanitary items to our collection!
This is an issue that it makes people uncomfortable to discuss, and many can’t bear to consider the realities of menstruation for the homeless. For the women themselves though, it is unavoidable. Let’s break the taboo, start the discussion and do what we can to help.