Shebbear College – pupils raising awareness of period poverty
02 Nov 2020
Two passionate pupils from Shebbear College in North Devon have launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of period poverty in the UK, an issue which they feel is often overlooked in our society.
Lily Down and Savanah (Sav) Whitechurch, both aged 13, have started up their own business, ‘Naturally Individual’, with the aim to sell monthly period subscription boxes, donating a box to a girl or woman suffering from period poverty for every box sold. The girls were inspired to take action after researching more about the issue for a ‘Dragon’s Den’ project in their English class last year, for which they were asked to come up with a new business idea.
“ We were trying to think of an idea that wasn’t necessarily about making money but could help people too.” said Sav, “We had both recently seen the news about period poverty and felt passionate about this issue so we thought, let’s make this our business idea.”
As part of the project the girls had to give a presentation to their fellow students. “We were so nervous about speaking in front of the class” said Lily, when asked about how she thought her classmates would react to the topic. “We were in Year 7 at the time and we just thought everyone would find the topic awkward and laugh at us – but we thought, no, this is a serious issue – we just need to go for it!”
“The reaction we got was not what we were expecting.” she added, “When we actually stood up in front of everyone, people took it seriously. They didn’t laugh, we didn’t laugh – this really highlighted to us that this is serious and we need to take it further.”
Shocked by the statistics they found when researching online, the girls set up their own YouTube channel to try and raise awareness that this issue wasn’t just happening in developing countries, but on our doorsteps here in the UK.
According to research, 49 per cent of girls have missed a day of school due to periods and one in 10 women aged 14 to 21 are not able to afford period products. A survey conducted by global children’s charity Plan International UK in May 2020 has revealed that three in 10 girls are struggling to afford or access period products while in lockdown.
After finishing their project, the issue of period poverty stayed at the forefront of the girls’ minds and during lockdown, they found they had the time to start thinking about how they could progress their idea.
“We decided to start approaching companies to find out if anyone could help us out with providing products to get us started and enable us to run a trial.” Sav commented. “We have had such a positive reaction from everyone and some companies have even sent us products already. Our next step is to get in contact with charities that can help us with reaching those women and girls in need so that we can help eradicate period poverty.”
Packaging company Davpack have sent 50 free boxes to help with a trial, while Lil-lets have provided a range of sanitary products, and Waitrose have sent a giftcard enabling the girls to buy the products required; the supermarket has said that it is looking into other ways that it can help. Lily and Sav have also set up a fundraising page on gofundme.com and have raised £797 in just 5 days! They are looking to reach a target of £1,500 so please do support them if you are able to.
“I am inspired by Lily and Sav’s passion for this incredibly widespread issue.” said Caroline Kirby, Head at Shebbear College. “It is so important to raise awareness about period poverty in the UK and I am incredibly proud of these two girls, who, at just 13 years old, have broken the silence and embarrassment that all too often surrounds this topic, and have come up with a brilliant idea to help women and girls across the country. The girls are driven, passionate and determined and they are definitely ‘ones to watch’ in the future!”
They have also set up a Naturally Individual account on Instagram @NaturallyIndividual.co.uk