A SANITARY donation bin has been installed at Boots Sidgate, intu Eldon Square, to help the region’s period poverty crisis thanks to Newcastle based youth group Youthwise.

Youthwise, a project run by young people’s charity Streetwise, launched the ‘Project M’ campaign in December 2018, offering free sanitary products to young women in Newcastle in an easy, discrete, and non-judgmental way.

The young volunteers attended the Newcastle Sexual Health Good Practice Awards in February 2019 and won the ‘Work with Young People (under 25)’ category for their ‘Project M’ campaign, which resulted in Carol Rowland, a local business representative and assistant at Boots Sidgate, intu Eldon Square, approaching the group to support the campaign further.

Mandy Coppin, CEO at Streetwise, said: “When Carol got in touch asking how Bootscould help support ‘Project M’ and young women in the region, we agreed that it would be great if Boots could collect customer donations at the busy Sidgate store.

“Since the campaign launched in December last year, we’ve received hundreds of donations which has led to a successful kick-start to the campaign and we have already had lots of young women come to us to sign up for an ‘M Card’, enabling them to access free sanitary products and advice.”

21-year-old Annaliese Heslop is a volunteer member of Youthwise who came up with the ‘Project M’ idea. She said: “Period poverty has been discussed a great deal in the national news over the last year or two, but despite this the government has done very little to tackle the issue.

“Youthwise decided to take the initiative by helping young women within our region and we were offered money by Key Fund to bring our project to life. Periods can be an embarrassing topic but we don’t want people to see it that way anymore, we want to reduce the stigma and make young women feel comfortable and empowered to reach out for help if they need to access essential products.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Sidgate Boots store in intu Eldon Square for their support with ‘Project M’ and we urge everyone to make a donation if they’re able to, as it will really make a difference to the lives of many young women in need.”

Carolyn Pearse, store manager at Boots Sidgate, intu Eldon Square, said: “My team at Boots Sidgate are delighted to support Streetwise and the young volunteers with ‘Project M’ and to hold the very first ‘Project M’ donation bin in our Boots store is amazing.

“We are very proud to be supporting Streetwise and the local community on such an important and current health poverty issue.”

‘Project M’ is set up so young people can visit Streetwise and sign up for an ‘M Card’ which will allow them to access free sanitary products discretely and it can be used as many times as they want. The process is as simple and as subtle as possible in order to help make young women feel comfortable when accessing essential products. The sanitary items are packaged up in discrete eco-friendly paper bags to help minimise embarrassment, which is something many young women suffer from during their period.

To support ‘Project M’, Streetwise HQ welcome sanitary donations including tampons and pads. The Youthwise team are also looking for donations of menstrual cups and other eco-friendly alternatives to suit the needs of young women in the region. Businesses are asked to get involved to tackle period poverty by carrying out collections within the company and dropping donations at Streetwise to help future proof and make it a sustainable project throughout 2019.

For more information please contact admin@streetwisenorth.org.uk.