West Berkshire woman's 'All Yours' campaign fights period poverty
Mother and daughter providing sanitary products for those who need them
A mother and daughter have created thousands of essential ‘period boxes’ to help women and girls struggling to be get hold of sanitary products during the coronavirus lockdown.
Caroline Herman and her daughter Cara, who live in Hampstead Norreys, set out to “make up a few packs pre-Christmas” and donate them to the local foodbank, after chatting about how much of a worry having a period is for some people each month and what they could do to tackle the problem of period poverty.
But their campaign has gathered momentum and they have now raised more than £6,500 and distributed thousands of boxes to women and girls in desperate need across West Berkshire, Reading and Swindon, in an initiative they have called ‘All Yours’.
“We set up a little crowdfunder and asked people to donate items and money and it has just absolutely snowballed,” Mrs Herman said.
“We have had so much support from people and loads of donations and loads of products given to us too.
“Some of the stories I have heard since setting up All Yours just horrify me and we wanted to do something to help.”
They now send out around 70 boxes each week, with Mrs Herman personally delivering many around West Berkshire.
The All Yours project has also been providing period boxes to Berkshire Women’s Aid and a women’s refuge in Reading, as well as now running a flyer system with West Berks Foodbank.
“We found that people were too embarrassed to ask for sanitary items,” Mrs Herman added.
“If you go into a foodbank because you can’t afford food, you can’t afford sanitary products either, but some people think they have had enough help so won’t ask.
"We also find mums ask for their daughters, but not themselves.
“It’s really sad and people feel they have to justify asking for the help.”
They now offer two types of boxes – one for women and another for young girls – and All Yours has also been working with schools to send out the products to pupils who would usually have been able to access free supplies at school, but who have struggled to do so since the lockdown.
People can contact All Yours online – www.periodbox.uk – to order what they need and the boxes will either be delivered by Mrs Herman and 14-year-old Cara or sent through the post.
You can choose to have reusable products now too if you would rather and you will be sent two to three months worth of products each time.
“I am very passionate about menstrual health,” Mrs Herman added. “If your cycle is working you probably have better physical and mental health too.
“Who do you tell when you face this problem? If you haven’t got food, you go to a foodbank, but there’s no natural ‘come here for help’ when it comes to this.”
Mrs Herman, who ran a well-being practice before Covid “put the kibosh on that”, added: “I hope I am setting a good example for my kids.
“It is giving Cara some amazing interactions with people she would never have met before.
“I also have a 16-year-old son and it has taken away the taboo of periods for him and he has been very interested in the fundraising side of things.”
The family have also had support from a number of young pupils at The Downs school, which Cara attends, as well as a pupil at St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, who is in the process of making up 50 boxes to be given to a foodbank in Calcot.
If you would like to donate money – which helps cover the postage and packaging of the boxes – or products, you can find out more by visiting their website at www.periodbox.uk