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Every day, all across Ireland, people are struggling to make ends meet. “Period Poverty” is a huge issue for women and girls, who sometimes have to make a choice between buying a meal, or buying sanitary products. So many of us take these items for granted, but in the UK, 137,700 girls missed school in 2017 because they couldn’t afford the sanitary products they needed.

An organisation called Homeless Period Ireland are doing Trojan work to collect and distribute sanitary products to homeless and low income women. The movement started in 2016 and since then they have been inundated with support. Drop off points have been set up all over Ireland, with people handing in a box of tampons or pads, and even some organisations donating in bulk.

The organisation is being managed by Claire Hunt, and is run entirely by volunteers with a budget of zero euros. But that hasn’t stopped them doing amazing work and creating a squad of volunteers to move pads and tampons all over Ireland.

We grabbed her for two minutes to chat about how we can help.

Claire, How big is this issue in Ireland?

This is a very real issue in Ireland and one which affects more women and girls than we realise.

How did the Homeless Period come about?

After seeing the volume of women homeless in Dublin and witnessing their lack of access to sanitation during the day the Homeless Period Dublin was set up in December 2016.

In 2017 I took over the day to day running of the Homeless Period Dublin  and I  soon realised there was a nationwide need for this initiative so the decision was made to change the name to Homeless Period Ireland (HPI). This meant the Homeless Period Ireland could increase our drop off points and more importantly our front line services.

What exactly do you collect and how do you distribute it?

At the moment we are collecting, sanitary pads, tampons and wipes.  At certain times of year, International Womens day, Christmas, we collect additional items such as shampoos, shower gels, toothpaste etc. All donations are distributed by a team of volunteer drivers.

How would someone go about organising a collection in their county?

We have several drop off points all over the country and would love more, if anyone has a business where the public can drop in sanitary products please get in touch!

What advice would you give to a young girl who wants to help those in poverty in their area?

We all have a role to play in helping people experiencing poverty, even purchasing one box of tampons can make a huge difference to someone. It is always great when school girls and boys organise collections for us. We all need to work together to break the stigma surrounding menstruation.

You can find out more about Homeless Period Ireland including drop off points here.

The Shona Project will be working with HPI at some of our upcoming events. Stay tuned for more info.