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Free sanitary products to be provided at local leisure centres in bid to end period poverty

Council confirms a selection of free sanitary products will be available from discreet dispensers at South Lake Leisure Centre, Banbridge Leisure Centre and Orchard Leisure Centre. .

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will provide free sanitary products in leisure centres across the borough in a bid to end period poverty, it has confirmed.

The aim of the scheme is to support women and girls who may not be able to afford products such as sanitary towels and tampons by making these products free and available at an easily accessible pick up point.

A selection of free sanitary products will be available from discreet dispensers at South Lake Leisure Centre, Banbridge Leisure Centre and Orchard Leisure Centre.

Access to the products is currently available at South Lake Leisure Centre, beside Café Incredable. However, due to current NI Executive restrictions – Banbridge Leisure Centre and Orchard Leisure Centre remain closed. Once re-opened this service will be available.

Research by the charity Plan International suggests that one in 10 girls and women – aged between 14 and 21 – in the UK has been affected by period poverty at some point.

Lord Mayor Kevin Savage said: “We are delighted to launch this new pilot initiative which will ensure no-one suffers as a result of not having the sanitary products they need. This initiative is about dignity and respect – we want to make sure everyone has access to the products they need – nobody should have to go without.”

Over the past year, council has also been distributing keep warm packs as well as a range of other items including personal hygiene items and sanitary products through the ABC Warm & Well Connected Scheme, funded by the Department for Communities Covid-19 Support Plan.

To find out more about the council’s period poverty pilot initiative, contact Customer Services Manager, Joanne Grattan at joanne.grattan@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk.

Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson welcomed the news but says more work is needed to tackle period poverty in the borough.

“I’m delighted that period products will now be available free of charge from the South Lake, Banbridge and Orchard leisure centres following the proposal of Councillor McKinstry,” said Councillor Tennyson.

“However, this is only the first step and we must strive to ensure that we are providing free sanitary products across all of our public facilities and sporting grounds across Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.

“The statistics are stark – over a quarter of girls in the UK have reused a sanitary product because they can’t afford a fresh one, while one in seven have had to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues.

“This is about much more than sanitary provision, it’s also about dignity and basic fairness for women.

“During the pandemic the community and voluntary sector has been leading on this issue. ABC Council must now step up to the plate.”

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