Aoife Grant from Buncrana has opened a pop-up collection in her hometown to lend a helping hand to women and girls in crisis.

Period poverty is a silent struggle that many women are forced to deal with every month.

It may be something that is often taken for granted, but the expense of feminine hygiene products can place extra pressure on teenagers and women in various circumstances.

Aoife Grant has opened Donegal’s only collection point this year for Homeless Period Ireland, a project with a practical goal and kindness at its core.

The initiative takes in public donations of pads, tampons, liners and wipes that volunteers then drop off at Homeless Outreach Centres, Direct Provision Centres and Women’s Refuges.

Aoife Grant, co-founder of Merdog Books

Aoife, who works in publishing, was inspired to help out after hearing about the trojan work of Homeless Period Ireland Manager Claire Hunt. The project was partly prompted by a scene from the British film I, Daniel Blake in which a young woman is caught for shoplifting sanitary pads.

Aoife was also struck by the harsh realities of the film and by essays on period poverty. She decided to get involved with Homeless Period Ireland in January 2019 by opening a collection point in The Exchange in Buncrana. Pads, tampons, wipes and maternity pads can all be donated to the designated point between 9.30am – 1pm and at various times in the evenings.

Aoife said: “I would urge women to, when they are buying something in the shop, just to put an extra one in the basket. Women who are pregnant and don’t need the items could also buy them anyway and donate them.

“I would love the support from women and men alike.”

A recent survey by Plan International found that nearly 50 per cent of Irish teenage girls find it difficult to afford sanitary products. Also, 61% of Irish girls aged 12-19 have missed school as a direct result of their period. A further 61% of girls said they are too embarrassed to talk about menstruation.

The average cost for a pack of sanitary pads in Ireland is €4.50, while tampons range from €2-€5 for regular packs. In a year, a woman can spend up to €100 on feminine hygiene.

Aoife is hoping the local collection can help the hidden crisis and break the stigma.

She said: “The most important thing to me is to get rid of that hurdle because young girls do not need another obstacle.”

“This is not just for homeless women, it’s women and teenagers in crisis and those in Direct Provision.”

The Buncrana collection will end on 8th March, International Women’s Day, before the goods are delivered to Homeless Period Ireland for distribution.

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