Newcastle University confirmed as first in England to offer free sanitary items on campus

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It has been confirmed that Newcastle University will be the first University in England to offer free menstrual products on campus.

The Students’ Union has worked to lobby the university over the last academic year to provide free sanitary items and Raff Marioni the President of the Union has confirmed plans will be going ahead before the end of the academic year.

Marioni told the Courier: “I’m excited to announce that the University have committed to introducing free campus wide sanitary items and are the first University in England to do so. Not only will it send a statement to every other University in the country, but more importantly it shows they care for the students on this campus.

“I’m excited to announce that the University have committed to introducing free campus wide sanitary items and are the first University in England to do so”

This initiative will help alleviate the stigma around periods, help those with financial issues and impact thousands of students.”

The move comes after a nationwide backlash against the UK’s tampon tax and after Scotland revealed a 5.2m scheme last year to provide students with free menstrual products in 2017 to help fight period poverty.

The need to address the issue of period poverty has been at the forefront of discussion in recent months as 1 in 10 girls aged between 14-21 are unable to afford menstrual products according to a Plan International survey.

Marioni proposed the report at a partnership meeting with the University after consultation with students through an online survey and discussions with Part Time Officers of the Union where it was accepted last week.

He continued:  “I’m proud of the work that had to go into this, from consulting with students and third-party companies, researching a ton about how this could all work, creating a full detailed report alongside Joe Barton, our and finally convincing the Uni.

“they’ve accepted the proposal as it stands which has provisions for 8 locations across campus where students can pick up free sanitary items”

It’s great that all out work since last summer has paid off. I hope that other Universities will follow suit because it’s so important, and I also hope students recognize that this is what can happen when people believe in and work with, their Students’ Union.”

When asked about the exact details of the provisions that have been agreed he commented:

“they’ve accepted the proposal as it stands which has provisions for 8 locations across campus where students can pick up free sanitary items. It is likely they will include a variety of menstrual products, some of which will be sustainable.

However, the locations may be subject to change leading up to implementation of the proposal. Marioni has suggested that the Robinson library and the Marjorie Robinson library are likely to be included in the locations where products will be on offer.

Free sanitary items on campus was one of the main manifesto pledges that Marioni was elected in the 2018/19 NUSU elections. Last month in an interview with the Courier in the run up to the proposal he said:

“I mean this really all goes back to the government putting a tax on tampons and the backlash that caused. Crucially, a lot of students don’t understand where their money goes and they don’t see what it contributes to. Utilising student money for something like this, from all the conversations that I’ve had that would much rather their money be spent on an initiative that actually helps them and benefits them.”

This step forward reflects a greater desire to tackle the issues of period poverty nationwide, with the UCU and the NHS also vowing to offer free sanitary items free of charge.

Last modified: 25th March 2019

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