Network Rail is working together with Mitie, a facilities management company to support the drive to end period poverty. Mitie has overseen the installation of vending machines in public toilets at all three stations which provide access to free sanitary products including pads and tampons for those who need them.
Period poverty affects women, girls and people who menstruate right across the world and means a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. Studies reveal that approximately 10% of girls aged between 14 and 21 in the UK cannot afford sanitary items. The average annual cost of buying tampons and pads works out at around £128 which equates to approximately £10 each month. One in seven students also relies on friends to provide them with sanitary products due to affordability issues.
Network Rail and Mitie hope that giving easy access to free sanitary products will support passengers to travel with dignity and confidence.
Calum Mackay, Network Rail’s station’s transformation programme manager, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Mitie to tackle the issue of period poverty by providing free access to sanitary products at our managed stations alongside safe, hygienic spaces in which to use them.
“We want everyone to feel welcome at our stations, which is why we’re proud to be doing our bit to help passengers access these vital products – as well as anyone else who needs them.”
Kelly Parish, Mitie strategic account director, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to partner with Network Rail in playing our part in working to end period poverty, which is such an important initiative.
“Providing access to free sanitary products for those who need them safeguards their dignity whilst being able to ensure their health and hygiene.
“Mitie and Network Rail are committed to delivering social value to maximise our positive reach and impact on the communities we serve.”
Vending machines dispense the free sanitary products and can be found in the following locations:
- At Bristol Temple Meads station in the female toilets in the subway and accessible toilets on platform 3
- At London Paddington station in the female toilets and changing room on platform 12
- At Reading station in the Brunel Arcade toilets
Following the installation of the vending machines at Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington an average of 875 products have been dispensed every four weeks with approximately 300 products being distributed each month at Reading station.