Morrisons Sheffield address period poverty with their new ‘Ask for Sandy’ designed for shoppers in need

29 April 2021

Supermarket Morrisons have initiated a new scheme to allow women in poverty to be discreetly given sanitary products.

The ‘Ask for Sandy’ scheme was created after research revealed over a third of the population are left without hygiene products.

Period poverty is a global issue affecting women all over the world who don’t have the income to buy sanitary products, resulting in a potential decline in hygiene, health, wellbeing and education

Dr Maria Tomlinson, a researcher and lecturer from the University of Sheffield, who specialises in reviewing the impact of Menstrual Activism in the Media, said: “I think the scheme is vitally important, especially as period poverty has increased during the pandemic. The provision of period products is important but most crucially we need to tackle the root of the issue which is the social inequalities in our society. In addition, we need to look for more sustainable solutions such as encouraging women to use menstrual cups and reusable pads.”

The widespread issue impacts women locally, nationally and globally, with research stating that 37 per cent of the nation, and 56 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds, going without hygiene or grooming essentials, or a reduction in their accessibility to products, due to lack of funds.

Raising awareness, Morrison’s Halfway in Sheffield have incorporated the ‘Ask for Sandy’ initiative, allowing women who are struggling to go to the front desk to receive a free package containing sanitary products.

A Facebook post from Morrisons Halfway alerting shoppers to the scheme reads:

‘We understand how Period Poverty can affect Women and Girls in this Country.
Please ask for ‘Sandy’ at our Kiosk/Customer Service Desk if you need any help.
No Questions, No Judgement, just Kindness and Support

The post has received a positive reaction across social media, with comments applauding Morrisons for their generosity. Responses supporting the scheme read: ‘what a great idea!’ and ‘this is brilliant.’

Although Morrisons have confirmed this is not a nationwide initiative but said it could look to expand it in the future.

In the UK, one in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, while one in seven have struggled to afford them, according to a representative survey of 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21 by Plan International UK.

The effects of the ongoing pandemic have escalated money problems and increasing financial burdens for plenty of people across the country with one in five adults now living below the poverty line in the UK.

The ‘Ask for Sandy’ campaign is an ask no questions scheme aims to provide women with free products, however how much does it do to raise awareness to the still taboo topic of menstruation?

Dr Tomlinson said: “While the “Ask For Sandy” scheme may lead to more women obtaining menstrual products that they vitally need, by asking women to use a code word, the campaign is suggesting that periods should not be openly discussed and therefore is problematically reinforcing menstrual stigma.”



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