Plans to tackle period poverty move to next step, says O’Neill

Alliance Councillor Sian O’Neill’s drive to see Belfast City Council end period poverty has moved a step closer, after she secured committee support to commission a report on the issue.

Having raised the subject at November’s Council meeting, Sian said the decision of the Strategic, Policy and Resource committee to take the next step could eventually help girls and women access a much needed resource, which the current lack of can have a serious impact on their lives.

She added: “I’m delighted to see Belfast City Council are taking action against the growing problem that is period poverty. I’m hopefully when the report comes back all Councillors will be able to get behind the move and together we’ll be able to change so many people’s lives.

“The final aim is that all Belfast’s public buildings and sporting grounds will provide free sanitary products and I hope other businesses will see our Council leading on this issue in the City and take similar action.

“As I mentioned in November, 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.

“But this is about much more than sanitary provision, not only is it about dignity for women, but it also about protecting women and ensuring they remain healthy and able to remain a vital part of their family dynamic.

“In the weeks since I raised this issue I’ve become aware of just how many people are approaching food banks looking for help and support. I have been volunteering for an initiative called The Homeless Period who appeal for donations of sanitary products across the city and who then deliver period care packs to women and girls most in need. They have delivered thousands of these packs across Belfast without any financial support of any kind, just relying on the amazing generosity of the people of our city.

“It’s issues like this that lead to real people suffering while the political stalemate continues, that make me glad as Councillors we’re not prepared to just sit back and do nothing.”

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