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Free sanitary products

The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 sets out the right to free period products for those who menstruate. A duty is placed on local authorities to provide these products within school and community settings.

Overarching duties of the Act are to make period products:

  • obtainable free of charge for anyone who needs them
  • available free of charge in educational establishments during term time

Developments so far

North Ayrshire Council has committed to combating Period Poverty. We are proud to be the first local authority in the UK to introduce free period products in schools in 2017.

We continue to strive to be sector leading, creative and ambitious, building on our initial operating model by:

  • extending and promoting our access points
  • raising awareness of Period Poverty.

Staff resources have been allocated to focus on the issue and to drive forward an ambitious action plan to ensure this delivers at a scale and pace to give our citizens the rights to have a period with comfort and dignity.

Our branding ‘Period Dignity’ gives our provision a unique identity and hopefully more positive messaging.

Period Dignity North Ayrshire logo

Educational facilities provision

We continue to develop and improve based on feedback from consultations with school pupils and education leads.

Products are available in primary and secondary schools in a convenient, dignified and discreet way. Ongoing support to all children and young people ensures they have knowledge of their entitlement to access products whenever they need them.

Community based provision

Period products are available free of charge from all Fairer Food Community Larders in North Ayrshire. They can be picked up by existing, or new members, as part of their weekly shop. Our larder sites are strategically placed across our authority and offer dignified access to a range of products.

Products can be accessed from all council buildings including libraries, leisure centres, halls and centres. Targeted approaches are in place providing key staff, such as Community Link workers, with products for clients as a quick and direct intervention to combat period poverty. A range of platforms have been used to promote our period product provision, including signage on council vehicles.

Future commitments

The council consulted in early 2022 to hear from those impacted by Period Poverty. Around 500 people took part. Feedback has helped inform and shape an ambitious, new Period Dignity Action Plan. User led experiences have been at the heart of our plan.

This statement summarises the arrangements that will be put in place to meet the duties of the Act:

‘We are focused on and committed to improving and extending access to free period products in a dignified way for people living in or visiting our area’.

 Statement from North Ayrshire Council Leader,  Marie Burns:

“North Ayrshire is a great place to live and work but unfortunately our Authority faces a number of challenges, including high levels of unemployment and rising child and household poverty. Tackling poverty is a top priority for the new administration and our focus will be on reducing the devastating impact poverty has on our families and communities. We are working on long term solutions to tackle the root causes of poverty but it’s important that we also act now to mitigate the immediate impact with some direct targeted interventions where and when they are most effective.

Period poverty is an example of where the Council has been able to offer support with dignity to those who need to access products. We know that the pandemic exacerbated period poverty due to the lack of access to a range of buildings and supplies. Lessons have been learned from Covid and work is well underway as part of our recovery plan to improve the pathways to period products by extending and promoting the network of community partners and access points.

North Ayrshire Council recognises that living in poverty is not a choice, and all of our citizens deserve the right to free and suitable products. We are committed to raising the awareness of our provision to allow everyone the right to manage periods safely, confidently, and most importantly with dignity”.

We will fulfil our commitments by:

  1. Ensuring we have a range of stock available at all schools which is accessible and free of charge
  2. Ensuring we have a range of stock available at council buildings and via other community partners which is accessible and free of charge
  3. Extending the products readily available in male and accessible toilets to ensure the service is inclusive for all gender identities
  4. Piloting the introduction of tote bags in cubicles providing products in a more discrete and dignified manner for pupils in school and youth establishments
  5. Optimising the opportunity to introduce re-useable products by piloting environmentally friendly samples in a range of our access points
  6. Identifying and addressing any geographical gaps in the operating model to ensure that citizens have convenient and local access to the service
  7. Reviewing the data from the Period Dignity consultation to further improve North Ayrshire’s operating model with user led views and experiences being at the heart of any changes
  8. Continuing to proactively engage with internal and external stakeholders, specifically targeting those who work with marginalised communities to ensure the operating model is inclusive and represents those particularly at risk of period poverty
  9. Increasing the awareness of the provision and sharing information on the service provision by developing an ambitious and comprehensive communications plan
  10. Integrating the Period Dignity work with the Council’s Challenge Poverty agenda
  11. Implementing an improved electronic ordering system for requesting top up period products which will also improve stock and financial control measures
  12. Assigning ‘Period Dignity Champions’ within the authority to undertake research, case studies, reviews and to promote and present the Council’s vision for addressing Period Poverty and reaching a place of Period Dignity for all

Period Dignity Champions

Our Period Dignity Champions are:

  • Carolyn Hope, Senior Manager, Facilities Management
  • Donna Morrison, Manager, Community Resources

To get in touch, please email Period Dignity

More information