Stedham mum’s joy as free period products to be made available in all schools

A scheme which brought free period products to more than 60 local schools and colleges has been forced to close – but the Stedham mum-of-three who set it up could not be happier at the news.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 5:45 pm
Lynsey Hutcheson presenting a Red Box to Chichester College

That’s because the Government announced that, from Monday this week, schools across in England will be able to order free period products for all learners who need them, making the Red Box Project redundant.

Lynsey Hutcheson, 39, said it was ‘very satisfying’ and ‘absolutely fantastic’ that the Government had recognised the issue of period poverty.

“It’s a fundamental problem that causes people to miss education,” she said.

Lynsey said the feedback she had received from schools since she launched local branch of the Red Box project in Chichester and Midhurst in September 2018 had proved the difference it was making.

“I’ve had messages from schools, I’ve even had individual messages from people,” she said, “One school in particular, there were girls that were attending school that wouldn’t have necessarily have been there before.

“To know it was actually having an impact on people, it touches your heart. It’s that bittersweet then when you think, I’m doing something good, but on the other hand you’re thinking – this is heartbreaking. People really need this.”

She estimated that the 89 red boxes full of free period products placed at educational establishments in the area, which have each been singlehandedly replenished by Lynsey, have helped about 50,000 young people in total.

The products were available to anyone, whether they were unable to afford their own supplies or had just been caught short.

Lynsey said: “We made it very clear that there were no criteria, no questions.”

Residents could support the project by making donations at supermarkets and other donation points across the area, and Lynsey said: “The generosity of people has never ceased to amaze me. It might not have meant anything to them, a pound or two, but to the person that received it, it could’ve meant absolutely everything.”

She said she was pleased that the Government’s announcement also included advice on how to advertise the free products to students and gave advice on how to reduce the stigma around periods for students of all genders.

“It’s something that needs to be de-stigmatised,” she said. “It’s completely natural, it’s normal, it happens.”