I started Bloody Good Period in 2016, when I was volunteering at the New London Synagogue asylum-seekers’ drop-in centre and discovered that period supplies were only provided for ‘in emergencies.’ Knowing that any period is an emergency if you don’t have the products you need, I started a whip around for donations of pads and tampons on Facebook. That turned into a full-blown operation to collect and distribute period supplies for asylum seekers all around the UK. We are now a registered charity, providing menstrual products to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford or access them, as well as providing menstrual, sexual and reproductive health education within those communities. We are now partnered with over 100 drop-in services and groups in London and the UK.
As with so many things, the pandemic has exacerbated the issue of period poverty: we’re now meeting a level of demand six times higher than pre-Covid, with over 79,000 packs of products distributed since the start of UK lockdown. As remarkable as that is – and as grateful as we are for the support of our wonderful community in enabling it to happen – we do not believe that this is a gap to be filled by a small charity. We believe that access to period products is a matter of human rights, and that they should be freely available to everyone who needs them. We’ve started a petition calling on the UK government to follow Scotland’s lead and make that happen.
‘We simply talk about periods and encourage everyone to do the same – this helps to take away the shame’
We also work to normalise periods and make them an everyday topic of conversation. We use straightforward language — like calling pads and tampons ‘period products’. We have a guide to period language on our website sowe can help others to adopt more positive language too. We also simply talk about periods and encourage everyone to do the same –you can come along to our annual comedy night, Bloody Funny, for all the period lols. We think that all of this helps to take away the shame; it helps us to have conversations, and that in turn means that people can more easily access the right information and support.
Taking action on period language is particularly timely as we approach Menstrual Hygiene Day, on 28th May. We’re not fans of the word ‘hygiene’. It might have relevance in a global context, where periods are discussed in tandem with working toilets, but here in the UK it’s the territory of big product manufacturers which also sell us blue liquid and rustle-free wrappers. All of that reinforces the idea that periods are something to be ashamed of and hidden away, and we reject that. We are, however, fans of any occasion to talk more about periods, and to help everyone get access to the information, support and products they need. On our social media channels this MH Day, we’ll be calling for everyone to join us in declaring #NoShameHere – rejecting the patriarchal period shame that’s existed for way too long – and asking people to donate to ensure we can keep on getting pads to everyone who needs them. Because everybody deserves a bloody good period.
- • Gabby was named as one of the Evening Standard’s Progress 1000 Top Changemakers and Stylists’ Woman of the Week.
- • Gabby has a Masters in Applied Imagination from Central St Martins specialising in feminism and comedy. Before BGP, she worked in Arts Education for children and young people, and trained as an artist. She lives in North London.
- • Bloody Good Period is a registered charity: 1185849