A student-led society at the University of Liverpool is developing a new initiative to help combat period poverty across Merseyside.

Project Ruby is producing sustainable self-care boxes, with a view to donating profits to local charities, such as The Period Project Merseyside. 

“The initiative is all about tackling period poverty and stigma in Liverpool and the surrounding region,” said Carey Owen, one of the team behind Project Ruby.

“The idea is that we’re creating these self-care boxes with sustainable period products as well as some other nice to have things like chocolate and wax melts or fluffy socks – things that make that time of the month a bit easier.”

The need for initiatives like this is clear.

According to a survey of 1,000 young women by Plan International UK, one in ten girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, while one in seven have struggled to afford them.

Further research by the charity found that 49 per cent of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period, with more than 137,700 children in the UK missing school because of period poverty.

“It’s important because when people think of people living in poverty, they think of those who can’t afford food or can’t afford heating. But for people with periods, you can’t avoid it, so it’s just as important as those other things,” Carey told Merseynewslive.

“I think people, when they donate to food banks, they forget that there are other necessities that people in poverty need such as period products. “

LJMU led the way in 2019 when it became the first UK university to offer free menstrual products in each of the 221 female, gender neutral and accessible toilets across its campuses.

In response to LJMU’s work, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “I support the great work that Liverpool John Moores University and the Students’ Union are doing through the #LJMUFreePeriod campaign.

“No woman should suffer through a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints.”

Project Ruby is being developed as part of a society at the University of Liverpool called Enactus, which oversees a number of student-led community projects.

Carey told Merseynewslive: “Before I joined, Enactus were doing lots of research and they discovered that period poverty is not just a problem in developing countries, but also in the UK and in the Northwest, which is what inspired this project.”

Whilst you must be a University of Liverpool student to be part of Enactus, Carey explained that there are many other ways that people can get involved with Project Ruby.

The 22-year-old said: “There’s other ways that people can help, such as sharing our socials or buying our products and learning more about our charity partners.

“We’re also hoping to collaborate with other societies at the university, such as the Help the Homeless society. So, there are plenty of indirect ways of helping as well as joining the project.”

Project Ruby hopes to get off the ground in the coming weeks, and you can find out more by following them on Instagram @rubyenactus.

Social short by Beth Lindop. Featured image from Unsplash.

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