This Company Is Fighting Period Poverty With 'Buy One, Give One' Sanitary Pads

For every pack of sanitary products Hey Girls sell, they donate another to a girl or young woman in the UK who can't afford it herself. Could this be the answer to period poverty?

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Period poverty - a lack of access to feminine hygiene products - is a serious problem in the UK. The issue was once deemed only prevalent in third world countries, but that's simply no longer the case: more young women than ever are struggling to afford pads and tampons.

While the likes of 18-year-old Amika George are single-handedly campaigning for the government to change its laws - and fighting to distribute free products in schools - others are tackling the problem from a slightly different angle.

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Think about your sanitary products. Have you repeatedly used the same (probably over-priced) brand since day one? The 'feminine hygiene' aisles in supermarkets might be full of endless pads and brightly-packaged tampon packets, but when you break it down, every woman knows there's not a whole lot to choose from.

The UK's sanitary goods industry is worth £400 million, yet one in 10 disadvantaged girls in the UK can't afford tampons, according to Plan International UK.

It begs the question, where the hell is our money going? And is there anything we can do to help?

Hey Girls is hoping they've got the answer. A Scottish-based company, its founders have one, very simple idea: for every pack of sanitary products they sell - they give a pack away to a girl or young woman in the UK in need.

Founded by single mother Celia Hodson, together with her two daughters, Hey Girls is selling boxes of 10 'daytime' pads and eight 'overnight' towels at £3.25 each. Each towel is environmentally friendly, and chlorine and bleach free, and will be on supermarket shelves within the next few months.

For now, you can buy the pads directly from the Hey Girls website.

For each box bought online, the company will donate a pack to a range of partner organisations, from food banks to charities that support vulnerable ex-offenders.

They're currently focusing on pads, but the aim is start selling tampons by the end of 2018.

Buy One Give One Sleep Rise & Shine DaytimeSanitary Pads, £3.25

Available UK-wide, the idea for Hey Girls came about after a 'heated' discussion between Ms Hodson and her two daughters, Becky, 30, and Kate, 27, resulted in setting 'a big hairy audacious' goal.

'We simply wanted to work out if we could fix period poverty and what that would look like,' Celia told the Evening Standard.

Having been a single parent, Celia know all-too well the financial strain of buying sanitary protection. When her daughters started secondary school, she was a young, divorced mother struggling to make ends meet on benefits.

'When you're in poverty,' she told Buzzfeed, 'how do you cope with the necessities of life when you've got other things that need to take priority, when you're on an incredibly tight budget?'

'You can only ask for favours for a certain amount of times,' she said. 'Having to ask someone 'Can you give me a pack of pads?' or 'Can you give me even one?' — there's a social stigma even asking that.'

'All mums want their girls to have exactly the same as all the other girls have got,' she said. 'Everyone's using pretty products – you don't want to give your child a budget product.'

Hey Girls Founder Celia Hodson with daughters Becky and Kate (R-L)

In the 80s, Celia used jam jars to budget for electricity, food, clothing and toiletries.

'When an unexpected bill came along or the kids needed something for school, then the jar that covered that cost was the toiletries and menstrual health jar,' she told the Evening Standard.

The situation for women just like Hodson hasn't changed in twenty years, which is why Hey Girls is so important. In fact, in the face of government cuts, Hodson believes it's even tougher for families struggling financially now. We need to seek sustainable ways to address period poverty in the UK, she says, that are 'not reliant on the Government.'

She continues: 'If you have to buy menstrual products anyway, you may as well do something good with the cost.'

On top of sanitary products, Hey Girls also provides resources for girls about periods on its website, and intends to distribute posters for display in school toilets, informing girls of where they can get their free sanitary pads.

Pads that are not only eco-friendly but directly help women in need? Count us in.

Hey Girls sanitary towels are available to buy online from today. For further check out their website here.

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