Period poverty: how to ensure your washroom caters to everyone

This year’s Spring statement marked an important development in the UK’s battle against period poverty, with the government funding free sanitary products across all secondary schools and colleges. Since then, it’s been announced that sanitary products will also be available in primary schools, signifying the positive steps being taken in order to create a country where all female students have access to the sanitary products they need.

But there is still more to be done to ensure every girl and woman in the UK has access to basic sanitary protection. In fact, more than half of UK females claim to have suffered from period poverty or know someone who has, while two thirds (68%) have been forced to use makeshift protection before.

Next week’s Menstrual Hygiene Day aims to engage businesses and organisations to break the silence, raise awareness and change negative perceptions around menstrual hygiene.

While government initiatives are driving change in the education sector, facilities managers and employers have a similar duty of care towards their visitors and employees to ensure a hygienic and accessible washroom experience.

This means recognising sanitary products as a vital ‘washroom essential’ like toilet paper, soap and hand drying facilities.

What’s in your washroom?

The Scottish Government made £4 million of funding available to local councils earlier this year, in a bid to place free tampons and sanitary towels in public buildings.

Football clubs have followed suit too, with many placing baskets containing free sanitary products in their washroom cubicles as part of the ‘On the Ball’ campaign, which aims to tackle period poverty, and get more men talking about period poverty.

Facilities managers looking to provide easy access to complimentary sanitary products in their premises, could consider installing a small dispenser within the toilet cubicle.

At Initial Washroom Hygiene, we’ve developed a small, discrete, compact unit, designed specifically to hold sanitary items and offer refills.

Typically located alongside the toilet roll holder, female washroom users who cannot afford them or who have simply been caught unaware are provided with easy, discreet and free access to sanitary products.

What’s more, these facilities can be re-stocked along with all other standard washroom provisions (such as soap and toilet paper), thereby integrating sanitary products into a standard cycle of regular washroom servicing and maintenance.

Initial is currently working with Freedom4Girls, a UK-registered charity actively supporting women and girls in both the UK and worldwide, who struggle to access or afford safe menstrual protection.

For every Period Poverty Vending Dispenser installed, a £5 donation is made to the charity, with an additional £1 donation for every box of sanitary refills ordered for these units.

Over £3,500 has been donated to the charity so far in this year as part of this initiative.

Encouraging discrete and hygienic disposal Sanitary items are one of the main culprits of toilet blockages.

Despite popular belief, tampons are not easily biodegradable, so it’s important to provide a female hygiene unit.

If no disposal units are available, washroom users may feel they have no choice but to flush sanitary products down the toilet, or even compelled to take their waste away with them.

Neither of these scenarios is acceptable, which is why providing all female washroom cubicles with sanitary disposal units is so important to maintain a clean and pleasant washroom. Designed to sit conveniently beside the toilet, these units are available in a range of colours and styles, and can be operated manually, with a pedal or automatically.

To enhance washroom facilities further, Initial’s feminine hygiene units contain a unique insert, called ‘Biofresh’, which includes an anti-microbial solution, insect repellent and a pleasant citrus fragrance, to remove bad odours and keep things fresh.

By employing a feminine hygiene waste disposal service, businesses can also guarantee their sanitary waste is collected, treated and disposed of in a sensitive and environmentally friendly way. This is not only important for the wellbeing of employees or other washroom users but helps to ensure waste is being disposed of in line with national health and safety legislation.

Final thoughts

No school or work day should be missed because of a lack of sanitary protection, so it’s important for all facilities managers and employers to ensure they have the services in place to tackle this problem head on.

Find out more about Initial by viewing their company profile, here.

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