Members Spotlight: Red Box Project South East LondonDate Posted: 03 July 2018
This week we are highlighting the work of our members, Red Box Project South East London, and spoke to their project coordinator Becky Lopez.
Tell us a little about you…
We are part of the Red Box Project, a 100% community driven initiative that aims to quietly ensure that no young woman misses school or suffers embarrassment because she has her period. The Red Box Project operates nationwide, we are based in South East London and there are local projects from Scotland to Cornwall. We even have two in the United States!
How are you helping to tackle child poverty in London?
Our Red Boxes help young women in need - whether for financial or social reasons – by giving them no questions asked access to sanitary pads and tampons to cover their entire period, plus a couple left over for next time. This is what makes it special.
It works by putting a red box filled with donated pads, tampons and pants into schools, PRUs and other educational and youth centres. Students take what's needed, and then it gets topped up again, with donations from the community of women supporting the project.
What concerns you currently about child poverty in London?
At the Red Box Project we have a particular focus on period poverty, when girls and women aren’t able to afford the right menstrual products every month. Research on the extent of period poverty in London is limited as data isn’t currently collected but the Mayor of London estimates that 80,000 young women and girls in London could be affected.
We have many concerns about how living with period poverty can affect young women’s lives. Teachers tell us that girls miss school because they don’t have the right period products. Even when they make it to school they may be distracted, unable to focus on lesson and unable to participate fully in sports and other activities. The effects go wider than education, though. Girls may find they have lower self-confidence, their friendships can be damaged and their health can be affected. It’s a matter of gender inequality, and it’s not fair.
Share with our members something positive about your organisation’s achievement or service
The South East London Red Box Project has been running for just over 6 months, and we already have nearly 80 boxes in the local community. We’ve raised awareness of the problem in our local communities and helped hundreds of girls. The schools we support are full of praise for the Project, with one teacher saying:
“In our school the red box isn’t just providing girls who need it with vital resources, it’s also taking away the stigma of periods. Our girls are no longer whispering “Miss, do you have some pads”. Our girls are not having to decide between buying lunch and sanitary protection. They feel loved and supported.”
For us, it doesn’t get much better than that.
What can other network members learn from you or find out more about through you?
Our project has only been able to grow as quickly as it has because of the local community partnerships we’ve built. Small businesses and community centres are at the heart of our project, acting as donation points for us and helping us to grow awareness. We’ve also worked hard to build partnerships with Food Banks and other organisations fighting period poverty. We use social media to build many of these partnerships, which has been fantastic for us.
Why did you join 4in10? What do you enjoy about being part of the 4in10 network?
We’ve joined 4in10 because we can see how important it is for organisations to work together to tackle child poverty issues and we want to be a part of the united effort to fight it in London.