What is A Bloody Good Cause?
A Bloody Good Cause is an initiative started to collect donations of sanitary products to distribute to homeless shelters. You can see our work and your kind donations on our Facebook page. If you don’t fancy reading the rest of this About Us, you can check out our “Getting to know you” video instead!
Why is this an important issue?
Every month, many homeless women endure a period without sanitary products. These women are forced into humiliating and often life-threatening situations without access to these products. The government does not currently give an allowance to shelters for sanitary products, although they do for condoms and razors for men. This further perpetuates the myth that our periods are a luxury. As a result of this, shelters rely on donations of sanitary products.
Who are the people behind A Bloody Good Cause?
We are Sanya Masood and Sophie Harrold, two young women from Stevenage, Hertfordshire: a solicitor and a teacher, old friends, modern feminists.
How did A Bloody Good Cause bloody well come about?
Sanya had been thinking about the issue of homelessness and menstruation, and after some Googling, found a campaign called The Homeless Period. The Homeless Period was started to raise awareness of the lack of government provision of sanitary products to homeless shelters. To put this in perspective, the government provides condoms and razors to homeless shelters, predominantly for male use, but, to date, there is no government provision of sanitary products for women.
What?! But that’s a crazy double standard!
Yes, yes it is.
So how did The Homeless Period inspire A Bloody Good Cause?
Via their website, The Homeless Period launched a petition to start a parliamentary discussion of the lack of government provision of sanitary products. This petition has now garnered over 100,000 signatures (you can sign it here) so can be put forward to be debated in Parliament (fantastic news!). Alongside the petition, the folks at The Homeless Period suggest that if supporters wanted to help in a more immediate, local way, they could arrange their own collections for homeless shelters.
Et voilá, A Bloody Good Cause was born?
Exactly! Inspired by this, Sanya got Sophie onboard, and on one fateful July afternoon, they created their Facebook page, A Bloody Good Cause.
What was the response like?
Lots of our friends and family were very supportive, not only donating but also sharing the page across cyberspace. In under four weeks of campaigning solely over social media, we managed to collect around 300 packets of sanitary towels and tampons (our initial aim had been to collect 50!). We were overwhelmed by the support, and now have over 250 likes on our Facebook page!
How did people donate?
Some donations came to us by hand, others in the post. Some supporters transferred us money to buy products on their behalf (we had many a trip to Poundland to spend £20 solely on sannies, earning us some bemused silences and poorly-concealed funny looks), others donated online via our Amazon Wishlist page.
Where did you take the donations?
Sanya got in touch with local Hertfordshire shelters, but the response she received was that most of their residents were male and thus had no need for the products. One shelter, The Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool (a bit further afield than our native Herts), replied enthusiastically stating that they had a great need for such products and would be delighted to accept our donations. We filled Sophie’s mum’s Ford Fiesta to the brim with donations and headed up to The Whitechapel Centre on 4th August, where we were met by Sarah, the centre’s Fundraising and Marketing Officer, who showed us around the centre’s service areas, such as the kitchens, common room areas and bathrooms. The Whitechapel Centre is the leading homeless and housing charity for the Liverpool region.
Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?
Yes! We have our own YouTube channel full of juicy vlogs – check us out and subscribe! We have also become media starlets. We appeared in our local newspaper, The Comet, before appearing in a story for the BBC Health website. Sanya spoke about our campaign on the radio for BBC Sheffield (0.50.29 onwards), BBC Bristol (1.41.00 onwards) and BBC Three Counties Radio (0.06.00 onwards) , and we both appeared on a video piece for BBC Look East. We then travelled to the BBC studios in London to talk live on air to DJ Nihal about the issue on the BBC Asian Network (1.1.12 onwards).
And you’ve been pretty busy since then, I hear?
You heard right! We began our second “drive” at the end of November and, and were delighted to be able to deliver over 250 donations to the Ashiana Network in Leytsonstone, East London, on 3rd January! For more about the Ashiana Network and the work they do, you can check out Sanya’s blog post and interview here. Our campaign story was picked up again by the Comet, by the Welwyn Hatfield Times and by the Hertfordshire Mercury.
And you didn’t stop then, did you?
Nope! Our third drive , over Easter 2016, collected our biggest haul of donations yet, for local organisation Stevenage Women’s Refuge. We were overwhelmed to be able to drop-off 600 packets of sanitary products to be distributed throughout Hightown housing association’s Home Counties’ refuges.
Now we’re onto our fourth drive (this time, featuring snapback caps)! As we received so many donations last time, we decided this time round we’d collect for two organisations and spread the love: Women’s Aid in Luton and Birmingham Homeless Outreach. Keep up to date with our progress on our Facebook page!
And what next in a wider context?
Earlier this year, we were delighted when it was revealed that the UK government is set to cut the 5% tax on sanitary products as a ‘luxury item’, something we’d contacted our local MP about.
We hope that The Homeless Period’s petition will be successful, and that we will see the government provide sanitary products for homeless shelters. In general, we hope that the menstrual discussion continues! Recently, menstruation has become a hot topic in the press, and we think this is crucial in removing its taboo status. The more talk about menstruation, the less stigma there will be attached to it. It is the 21st century: we breathe and we bleed, deal with it!
~ Sophie & Sanya