Senior councillor's 'pride' over Leeds's lifeline period poverty scheme

A senior Leeds councillor has spoken of his pride over the city’s period poverty scheme and the work which went into ensuring it continued throughout the pandemic.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 4:45 am

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, thanked staff and volunteers for making sure free period products remained available to anyone who needed them throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

The city’s period poverty scheme was first established in 2018 - through a partnership between young people, parents, the private, third and public sectors, as well as schools and the University of Leeds - to provide access to those who may otherwise have found it difficult to buy them, as well as helping to reduce the stigma around periods.

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Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Before the pandemic, products were sent to schools and community hubs, with over 52,000 packs distributed since October 2019.

But during the pandemic, products were instead sent out through the emergency food response as well as key third sector organisations and Catering Leeds.

Callers to the Leeds City Council helpline for welfare packs were also given the opportunity to request period products and they were also sent out through the Free School Meals hamper scheme.

Over 34,000 of these hampers were sent out between March and July and every four weeks they contained period products, equating to around £8,500 of goods.

Leeds's period poverty scheme continued throughout the pandemic. Picture: PA

Although most community hubs in the city closed during lockdown, four sites remained open for food and sanitary product collections.

Now, all community hubs have re-opened and once again have a supply of products for all those who need them.

Coun Pryor said: “I am really proud of everything that we have achieved with this scheme and I want to personally thank every single member of staff and volunteer who worked tirelessly over the pandemic to ensure that the issue of period poverty was not forgotten.

“From the beginning it was really important to us that the school scheme in particular reflected what young people themselves told us they wanted and we took the time to really listen to how they wanted the scheme to work. This goes right the way from how the products are accessed to what they are.

“We were absolutely insistent that free did not mean low quality and the provider of the products was chosen, in part, due to the fact that their products are brand matched to other major brands and therefore matched to quality. This was non-negotiable as far as we were concerned.

“The offer includes both tampons and pads as we needed products that could be used by all ages and experience of using different products.

“I was, and remain, very grateful to all of our partners who came together to make this scheme happen as we remain determined to eradicate period poverty.”

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