2019 was a really exciting year for Bristol, The Real Period Project and especially for period equity and dignity across the UK.
The Period Poverty Taskforce began meeting and we are excited to be involved in the Stigma & Education working group which is making recommendations to the Taskforce. It’s been great working alongside fantastic people from the PSHE Association, Sex Education Forum, Binti International, Sport England, Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and many others. Watch this space for news on what comes out of this later in 2020.
Alongside this Bristol City Council have been leading the way in promoting period dignity by launching their Period Friendly Bristol scheme which brings together city partners as part of their One City Plan. Tackling period poverty was a priority in the One City Plan for 2019 and they have done some innovative work – check out the web app which points users in the direction of their nearest collection or drop off point for donated period products across the city. Along with this the council wanted an education program to promote schools in the city to Period Friendly. So we collaborated with City to Sea and Brook Bristol to do just that.
Through many conversations with school staff, young people and professionals working with young people we started to get a picture of the particular challenges schools face in being period friendly, what they’re already doing really well, and where they’d like to improve.
We’re really grateful to everyone who took the time to speak with us and see this as important. From this we developed Period Friendly Schools guidance (to be released to Bristol schools soon) and training for school leaders and teachers and ran this alongside City To Sea’s ReThink Periods teacher training program, and Brook Bristol have delivered specialist training for pupils with SEND. The guidance recommends different areas for schools to work on to become more period friendly, and culminates in an audit they can complete to attain Period Friendly certification. It has been such a joy to work with a council who also see this as important work and are willing to support and encourage it.
Throughout 2019 there have been several projects across the UK funded by the Let’s Talk. Period fund managed by Plan International and Brook. Brook have been running a series of Let’s Talk. Period sessions in seven regions across the country, piloting their ‘P Card’ system, distributing free products and delivering education to many young people. In Bristol they have also developed and trialled excellent resources for working with and supporting trans and non binary young people who menstruate. The Real Period Project also received funding from Let’s Talk. Period to run a small trial of Menstrual Cycle Awareness sessions for young people in Bristol and Bath. We worked with a researcher to test out our teaching model and are really excited about the results so far. Once we have completed the project and analysed the findings we’ll report more here, so watch this space!
In 2019 the UK Government also promised to start providing free period products in primary and secondary schools and colleges in England, following Scotland who have been doing so since 2018. The scheme began in January 2020 and we’re so happy to see it happening. Check out our post on providing products in schools for our recommendations on what to consider when doing so.
2019 was a big act to follow. However, readers may remember 2015 being named as the ‘year of the period’ – it feels like periods have become more and more visible and gained more and more attention each year since then, so we have high hopes for 2020!