Network Rail has made free sanitary products available in Leeds train station as part of an initiative to help tackle period poverty.
The new vending machines, which can be found on platforms and in the female and accessible toilets on the main concourse provide passengers and station users with access to free pads and tampons, to ensure customers can travel with dignity and confidence.
Station customer experience manager for Network Rail, Maxine Joicey, said: ‘’We want everyone to feel welcome at Leeds station.
‘’That’s why we’re providing free access to period products which we hope will allow our passengers – or anyone else in need – to travel by train or explore the city of Leeds with confidence.’’
Leeds City Council, which has previously worked for schools to provide free sanitary products and help tackle the stigma around period poverty have shown their support for the initiative.
‘’Period poverty is something no one should experience, and we welcome this initiative from Network Rail,’’ a statement said.
According to Plan International UK, the average cost of a period is around £128 a year- or £10 a month – and 10 percent of girls are unable to afford the necessary products.
Also tackling period poverty is Leeds-based charity Freedom4Girls, which was founded by Tina Leslie in 2016 and first began its mission in Kenya.
The charity’s mission is to provide free sanitary products to those who are unable to afford them as they believe no girl should miss school because she is on her period, nor should a woman be forced to miss work.
Many of the products Freedom4Girls deliver are donated to refugees, asylum seekers, mental health charities, social services, justice services and food banks – anyone who is dealing with people who are particularly vulnerable.
Tina Leslie told Yorkshire Voice: ‘’Sometimes it comes down to ‘is it heating or is it buy a packet of tampons?’ ‘Do I buy a loaf of bread, or do I buy pads?’
‘’I thought wow, the sixth biggest economy in the world and we have period poverty here. I just had to tackle it here as well. I think Freedom4Girls put period poverty on the map worldwide.’’
One woman who was inspired to start distributing donations after seeing the work charities such as Freedom4Girls and Hey Girls do is Kelly Snowden.
She said: ‘’I think it’s very forward-thinking, I think it’s about time that women didn’t have to pay for sanitary products.
‘’I hope that this inspires other businesses and other organisations to really follow that trend.’’