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Suffolk girls missing education because of cost of tampons ‘horrendous’ say teenagers

PUBLISHED: 11:30 15 October 2018

From left to right: Miss Myfanwy Cooper, Lara Fordham, Suffolk county councillor Jack Abbott, Evie Harrison, councillor Helen Armitage and Alex Mayer MEP Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL LABOUR GROUP

From left to right: Miss Myfanwy Cooper, Lara Fordham, Suffolk county councillor Jack Abbott, Evie Harrison, councillor Helen Armitage and Alex Mayer MEP Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL LABOUR GROUP

Suffolk County Council Labour Group

Girls at a Suffolk school who are backing a campaign to end period poverty have said more needs to be done to break the taboo.

Suffolk County Council Labour group councillors Helen Armitage and Jack Abbott were joined by MEP Alex Mayer at Thurston Community College on Friday, where girls from the school shared their experiences of the difficulties periods at school has had.

The Labour group has put forward a motion to this week’s full council meeting calling for £15,000 to fund free tampons and female hygiene products in all local authority schools across the county, as well as urging academy trusts to do the same.

Youngsters at the school said the cost of sanitary products meant many girls could not afford them, and left them embarrassed at school if they were on their period, sometimes resorting to using unsuitable items like newspapers.

They also reported that some of their peers had skipped school for two or three days at a time because they did not have any tampons.

Evie Harrison, 16, said Friday’s visit was “probably the first time we have had some kind of political figure who wants to talk about it,” and added: “It’s incredibly important [it is talked about] because it’s a completely natural thing every month, it should not be taboo – we need to help girls.”

Fifteen-year-old Lara Fordham added: “We have been talking about the situation that many girls are in in that there is a limited amount of products they can afford, and how absolutely horrendous it is to miss out on education and social time and basic life because they cannot afford any sanitary products.”

Myfanwy Cooper, an English teacher at the school, said many female staff members often brought spares with them in case girls came to them with issues, and said the school was having more conversations about the issue as a whole.

She added: “It’s not a problem that affects boys in the biological sense so they feel they shouldn’t get involved or necessarily have an opinion on it, so it’s an ongoing battle to break down that taboo, and that stigma where people feel they cannot have those conversations.”

It is understood the county council’s Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group is also backing the campaign.

Alex Mayer MEP added that it was time to stop Suffolk girls missing out on education because of period poverty.

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