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Period poverty a 'gross exaggeration' in Medway, says councillor

Claims that period poverty is a problem in part of the county are a “gross exaggeration”, according to a leading councillor.

Research shows all but one of Medway’s secondary schools provide sanitary products for pupils, with an average of between 10 and 15 products taken each week.

It follows a previous study which suggested nearly one in five young people in the region know someone who has missed school because of a lack of access to sanitary products.

Period poverty is "gross exaggeration" in Medway, claims Cllr Adrian Gulvin
Period poverty is "gross exaggeration" in Medway, claims Cllr Adrian Gulvin

The school which does not currently have such a facility is an all-boys, although it does have a cohort of sixth form girls.

Conservative members voted down a Labour motion in May which could have eventually seen Medway Council issue free tampons and sanitary towels to eligible pupils.

At the time, Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab) told members they could end local period poverty – a term which refers to women who do not have access to menstrual products due to a lack of availability or money.

But following the review by the public health team, members of the health and wellbeing board said they were confident in the provisions currently in place.

Cabinet member Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con) said: “When the issue was first raised at full council, it appeared we had a terrible problem here in Medway.

“That proved to be a gross exaggeration, but that’s not to say there aren’t areas where improvements can be made.”

The council’s public health team is now working with Medway Youth Trust and Medway Foodbank, with the latter having seen an increase in sanitary items donations since the issue was first debated.

Of 185 teenagers surveyed by the public health team, 36 had heard of girls missing class because they did not have the right feminine hygiene products for their periods.

Cllr Adrian Gulvin
Cllr Adrian Gulvin

Cllr Howard Doe (Con) added: “In the sense of the quantity of it, I think perhaps it isn’t one of the most major issues but I think the point of the report is that we needed to know that.

“The question was asked and the response shows although we’re doing well, we can slightly change some of the arrangements we have which will make it a really good service.”

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