In this week’s bumper 72-page Big Issue you will find a very special mini-magazine that we produced in collaboration with leading period poverty campaigners and social enterprise stars Hey Girls.
The 24-page special mini-magazine – which features a close-up of a menstrual cup on the cover – is all about why we need to smash period stigma, menstrual products, poverty, activism, the environment and what we can all do to make a big difference in the world by taking little steps. This is the first time a mainstream UK publisher has printed a magazine that is devoted entirely to periods from cover-to-cover. Inside you’ll find contributions from social enterprise champion Caitlin Moran and #Pads4Dads campaign conversation-starter, Michael Sheen.
Recent research found that one in 10 girls and young women had experienced period poverty and sometimes had to resort to using items like old newspaper, rags or socks because they couldn’t afford pads or tampons. Many have even missed out on education because of it. With this mini-magazine, The Big Issue and Hey Girls aim to raise awareness and show what we all can do to change things.
Since 2018 Hey Girls has been leading the fight against period poverty, driving change at government policy level, improving menstrual health education for girls and boys in schools and providing free products for all in colleges, schools and universities. They have encouraged football clubs to make products free in women’s toilets, and help employers embrace workplace period dignity by making free products freely available for all staff.
The Big Issue has championed organisations that tackle period poverty for several years. That includes Hey Girls, who we supported through our social investment arm Big Issue Invest.
Big Issue Editor Paul McNamee said: “We are proud to be part of Hey Girls’ success. They’re a smart, righteous, clear-sighted organisation. They grew with help from Big Issue Invest, so we have been linked since early days. It’s fitting that this first ever mini-mag devoted to period poverty and what comes next should be a collaboration between The Big Issue and Hey Girls.
“The team have crafted a terrific publication that talks directly and intelligently without preaching or carping. It’s a bold, positive step forward in driving the conversation – from school kids to shy dads – and it makes people aware of what we can all do to change the world.”
And at the heart of Hey Girls is their buy-one-give-one social enterprise model: for products bought by individuals in a shop like Waitrose, Asda and the Co-Operative or online, or for each product provided as part of a workplace period dignity scheme, or bought by one of their community partners, another will be provided in that local area to a woman or girl who might be struggling to afford it.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Hey Girls founder and CEO Celia Hodson commented: “We’re really thrilled to have worked with The Big Issue for the first ever cover to cover supplement that is all about periods. It’s often a subject hidden away in the back of a magazine so to be bringing periods front and centre is revolutionary. Period poverty is a very real problem in the UK and it needs to be solved. This Period Issue should help empower and educate everyone to make a small step towards eradicating period poverty for good!”
In addition to giving away the mini-magazine free in the regular edition of The Big Issue sold by vendors across the UK, we have produced a bespoke Period Issue of the magazine exclusively for sale by Hey Girls’ community partners. Plus for each copy of this edition sold a box of menstrual products will be given to a woman or girl in the buyer’s local area. So look out for the Hey Girls Big Issue Community Sell-Off and buy one of their special editions of the magazine to give a product for free!