Don’t cramp our style: how Newcastle students are tackling period poverty

Written by News

Students at Newcastle University are continuing to lobby for free sanitary products in the SU. On the 29th of October, The Courier published an article about a scheme launched by the UCU to provide free sanitary products to students at Newcastle College. In light of this article, a petition was started demanding that a similar scheme be put in place at our university, obtaining over one hundred and eighty signatures in its first three days.

The petition was started by Julia McGee Russell, Arts Editor for The Courier, and argues that if the scheme can be introduced at Newcastle College, the same issues should also be being dealt with at Newcastle University. 

“An article last week by The Courier highlighted the period poverty that young people across the UK face every day,” the petition reads. “NUSU President Raff Marioni and Welfare Officer Jack Green are currently fighting to fund free sanitary products at Newcastle University. Let’s support the institution of this policy for the benefit of everyone suffering from period poverty.” 

When asked how the idea to start the petition came about, Julia McGee-Russell said: “The idea to start this petition came from one of our News Team shows at NSR, where we talked about period poverty, the recent Scottish and Welsh government’s funding towards ending it, as well as the free products made available at Newcastle College. 

“I urge anyone who believes in this to sign the petition and share it with their social media circles. The more signatures we get, the more support Raff and Jack have to fulfil their campaign promise, and the less impact period poverty will have on our students.” 

The petition was created on Change.Org, which allows people to give their reasons for signing. Some students chose to express their discontent with the current lack of free sanitary products, with Haaris Qureshi, the NUSU Disabilities Officer, commenting that “Sanitary products are not a luxury item, and the idea that anyone will have to (go) without making use of one due to financial security is unacceptable.” Another commenter wrote: “Let’s end period poverty, period.” 

But the petition isn’t the only way that Newcastle University students are fighting these issues. On the 8th of November, the Speech and Language Therapy Society held a Pub Quiz to collect sanitary products for the Red Box Project. The event was held in the upstairs of The Junction and took donations sanitary products at the door as an “entry fee”. According to a tweet by SLT, the event was a hit, with over eighty people showing up and donating around 150 packs of tampons and pads. 

Emily Erceylan, the president of the SLT society, said that the idea came about after a group discussion on period poverty. “We are a majority female course, so we thought it would really (help to) raise awareness, especially because most of our members are likely to know how expensive sanitary products are. 

“Our fundraising rep, Hannah Stead, organised the event with the committee’s support… Emma Higgins (SLT’s treasurer) raised the issue that some students could also face problems with the price of sanitary products, so we are in discussion about making a red box in our building (KGVI) for our members.  

“It could make a huge impact if (the university) made a move towards offering a red box for students. The amount of girls who miss school due to their period is worrying, and we feel that something really needs to be done to stop this!”


You can sign the petition for free sanitary products in the SU here: https://www.change.org/p/nusu-fund-free-sanitary-products-at-newcastle-university

Last modified: 14th November 2018

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