Hundreds raised for Larne period poverty campaign
The Larne community has been thanked for their generosity after hundreds were raised in a campaign to combat period poverty.
Larne Area Community Support Group's 'Equality Period' was set up to generate funds for the purchase of sanitary and hygiene items.
It comes after a UK-wide survey by Plan International found that almost of third of young people aged between 14 and 21 have struggled to either afford or access sanitary products while at home during lockdown.
Alarmingly, more than half of the respondents said they had used toilet paper as an alternative to period products.
The campaign, which ran for the month of August, raised over £800 through an online crowdfunding page, with a further £200 in external donations.
Commenting on the fundraiser's success, Suzi from Larne Area Community Support Group said: " At first we thought we might struggle to reach the £500 target, but then it really took off. It's been incredible; Larne is a very generous town and everybody wants to help. A lot of donations have been from men.
"It's also got the conversation going about period poverty which is great; it shouldn't be a topic that people feel embarrassed to speak about."
The issue is often compounded by sanitary products being overlooked as 'essential', and therefore not included in many lockdown emergency packs.
"Larne Foodbank saw a 135 percent increase in uptake since March - it stands to reason that if people cannot afford food, they cannot afford menstrual products either," Suzi added.
"But it's not just a financial barrier; since they're not generally included in [emergency] packs it's something that will have to be requested, so we're back to the issue of people potentially being embarrassed about it.
"Equality Period doesn't require referrals, so anyone who needs any sanitary items should get in touch and we will sort them out."
Larne Area Community Support Group also invited donations of hygiene and sanitary products as part of the campaign.
Members are aiming to assemble around 500 packs, which will be distributed to local groups including Women's Aid, Larne Foodbank, Salvation Army, YMCA youth club and schools in the area.
"The scheme is something that we will be looking to continue," Suzi said. "We will do it as long as necessary, as the problem of period poverty is not going to go away. But talking about it is going to impact the change."