London News & Search
Some 58,336 supporters have signed a petition set up by Londoner Hannah Morrison to have sanitary towels and tampons handed out to low income families.
Writing on change.org, Ms Morrison, who campaigns for female rights group Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists, described how she was forced to borrow female hygiene products from friends or wear makeshift items during menstruation.
She said: “When I was 12 and on my period, I was forced to borrow sanitary products from my school friends or use tissue, as I felt too guilty to ask my mum for money.
“I knew we didn’t have much money, and I also knew how expensive they were.”
She added that this “carried on through college” until she was forced to skip class while on her period.
She said: “When I became really desperate I would save my lunch money to buy them instead of eating.”
In March it emerged that teenagers were skipping lessons because they felt unable to get their hands on sanitary towels and tampons.
One affected teenager told BBC Radio Leeds that she had used socks, toilet roll and Sellotape to create makeshift sanitary products.
She said: “I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn’t want to get shouted at.
“And I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home. I once Sellotaped tissue to my underwear. I didn’t know what else to do.”
On Tuesday the Scottish government said at least 1,000 women and girls would benefit from a £42,500 pilot scheme to fund free female hygiene products.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “It is unacceptable that any woman or girl in Scotland should be unable to access sanitary products.
“That is why, as part of our wider aims to eradicate poverty from our country, we are exploring how to make products freely available to low-income groups.
“The pilot in Aberdeen is a first step to help us understand the barriers women and girls face – and to help us develop a sensitive and dignified solution to making these products easily accessible to those who need them.”
The petition calls on the UK government to implement a similar scheme to help those in England.
London News & Search