Only a quarter of Hartlepoool schools take up period poverty offer
Only a quarter of schools in Hartlepool are taking advantage of a Government scheme to provide free period products to pupils, new figures reveal.
The Red Box Project – which campaigned for the scheme to be introduced after one in 10 young people were found to be experiencing period poverty – said all schools should be taking part in the project but Department for Education data shows that only 11 of the 40 schools in the area ordered free period products for their pupils last year.
The value of the products distributed was £4,536 and each participating school spent on average £405 - around 74% of the £550 spend cap.
Schools can order the products online, they are delivered free of charge and available to all pupils - including those who have forgotten their own or cannot afford them.
Nationally, the uptake of the scheme has been around 41% in primary schools, and 76% secondaries.
A report published by the DfE said that schools had been less likely to order period products while pupils were learning from home during the pandemic.
Clegg Bamber, co-founder of The Red Box Project, said: "Starting your period at any age can be a distressing time, even more so when you are at school, but by having the period products available to students who need them it takes away some of the pressure and angst.
"Government should be striving for 100% take-up across all institutions.
He added: "Whilst the period products scheme is a great step forward and something we campaigned for, it does have its limitations at the moment.
"Schools are only in attendance for 39 weeks of the year and menstruation cycles do not stop for school holidays and this has to be considered when thinking about the issue of period poverty affecting young people."
A Department for Education spokesman said: “No pupil should ever have have to miss school because of their period and oer three-quarters of state secondary schools and colleges accessed period products using the Government’s scheme during its first year.
"The Red Box Project remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and now that they have returned we expect the uptake to return to pre-lockdown levels.”