Challenges & Solutions
Being a homeless woman is unsafe, unhealthy and carries huge risks. If finding shelter, food, healthcare and safety wasn’t challenging enough… try dealing with your period too.
Often the women we support have only the clothes they stand in, they don’t have access to painkillers, sanitary products, warm water or a clean and safe place to look after themselves. They can’t curl up in bed with a hot water bottle, in fact many don’t sleep at all because of their circumstances and the risks they face.
As a result they resort to using paper towels, newspapers or clothes as a substitute for sanitary products. They may keep a tampon in longer than they should, they may wear unclean underwear and have to deal with their most intimate problems in the most unpleasant of places. There’s little dignity on offer at that 'time of the month'.
We want to change that. We want to offer a period of dignity where women know they don’t have to ask, or to beg but they can simply pop into a Period Friendly Point and know they will find what they need.
The Solution: Period Friendly Points
Period Friendly Points offer accessible and free sanitary products for homeless women, or any women in need. Each Point also carries a small stock of spare pants, travel wipes and disposal bags. The Period Friendly Points are identified by the distinctive 28-day calendar logo (shown above). This will inform the women that they will always be welcome, there will be free access to products and there will be a clean, safe space with warm water. Selected Points will be able to offer advice on periods and other health concerns.
When you’re homeless your lifestyle and/or health can cause periods to stop or become irregular and women who are homeless are at greater risk of sexual assault. Therefore selected Period Friendly Points will have pregnancy test kits available to women who may be worried they are pregnant.
In some instances women may be worried about having an infection. Selected Points will carry self test kits to help women find out as quickly as possible. We can also support the women to access free treatment at their local pharmacy.
A recent Simon Community Scotland study identified that 70% of homeless women interviewed did not know how a period works because no one had ever taken the time to tell them. We believe no woman should go through life without having someone to talk to about periods and feminine healthcare. Period Friendly Points have been created to be that level of support and care.