Exeposé News Issue 660 (7 November 2016) and Exeposé News online (8 November 2016)
Students are being urged to help Exeter’s menstruating homeless and vulnerable population – by donating tampons and other sanitary products.
Student-led group Provide a Pad have announced a donation drive during week eight in an attempt to support Exeter Foodbank and other charities in the city.
“We’ll be collecting products from anybody who wants to come and donate,” Provide a Pad’s Charlie Morrison told Exeposé. “People who want to get involved just need to buy a pack of pads, or have pads on them and give them to us.”
Provide a Pad was founded in Spring 2016 by then-Postgrad Taught Officer Sherv Cheung. After a collection in June, the team delivered the products to Exeter Foodbank and told Facebook fans they were “extremely proud to make a significant donation” to the charity.
They will return to the Forum street this week to collect pads and tampons from students, staff and visitors. “We’ve been happy to see so many students wanting to get involved,” Morrison said. “It’s great to see people who are so interested and compassionate.”
The campaign’s relaunch comes a month after outreach workers warned of “ridiculously high levels” of homelessness among women in Exeter – with women making up an estimated third of Exeter’s homeless population, twice the national average.
Donations will again go to Exeter Foodbank, but if the team receive enough, they plan to support local homeless charity St Petrock’s. “We’ll probably try to split it evenly,” Morrison said, “so the greatest amount of people will be able to access those donations.”
Exeter Foodbank told Exeposé they were extremely grateful for Provide a Pad’s support last term.
“There is such relief on the faces of women who we have passed on the pads and other items to,” Foodbank Manager Joy Dunne said. “It’s one less thing to worry about.”
“Buying sanitary towels is an added expense that is hard to find the money for,” she said. “Imagine having to take children to school, looking for work every day or attending a Uni lecture – all without finance to buy sanitary items.”
Provide a Pad is currently an all women team – but Morrison is keen for male volunteers to get involved. “Everyone is welcome!” she stressed, adding: “it would be great if we could have some more gender diversity among the people volunteering. “We are trying to break down the stigma around this issue, especially as there’s been a recent rise in homelessness among transgender and non-binary people, who will also experience menstruation,” she explained.
“We’d also like to be aware of these people’s difficulties and needs.”
Exeter’s PearShaped magazine is currently planning a fundraising gig for Provide a Pad, President Robert Scott told Exeposé. Details are yet to be confirmed – but it’s hoped the gig will take place on 29 November at the Lemon Grove, with support from the Guild’s Society Annual Grant Scheme.
Provide a Pad will be in the Forum street between 9am and 6pm until 11 November.