Meet the social enterprise making period poverty history

Hey Girls gives sanitary products to women in shelters or visiting foodbanks for every sale they make

A new social enterprise aims to tackle period poverty in the UK on a ‘buy one and give one’ model. 

Scotland-based Hey Girls is the brainchild of Celia Hodson and her daughters Becky and Kate, based on the philosophy that people with periods should never have to compromise their wellbeing or their health.  

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Hey Girls founders Kate, Becky and Celia hope to tackle period poverty with their 'buy one give one' scheme

Their new ecommerce website will provide free sanitary towels and educational resources with the aim of assisting those in need across the UK. For every pack of sanitary products they sell they give a pack away to someone in need through connections with food banks, shelters and women’s organisations. 

The Hey Girls brand launched with two varieties of no leak, super comfy, chlorine and bleach-free, environmentally friendly sanitary towels – all profits from sales are reinvested through donations and educational resources.   

As a single mother Celia has first experience of the financial strain of buying sanitary protection when relying on state benefits. Speaking about the roots of the enterprise, she said: “It all started with a heated discussion between myself and my two daughters that results in a big hairy audacious goal. We simply wanted to work out if we could fix period poverty and what that would look like. 

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“It’s so important that we seek sustainable ways to address period poverty in the UK that are not reliant on the government. Hey Girls provides an alternative shopping experience for those wishing to make a difference with the items they purchase for themselves. By buying social, they are doing good directly via each pack they buy.” 

 Scottish grassroots group Women for Independence revealed this week that one in five people who menstruate have experienced period poverty – resorting to alternatives like toilet roll, food banks and the charity of friends to make it through the month.  

It’s so important that we seek sustainable ways to address period poverty in the UK

With an estimated average spend of £13 a month on period products, Scotland are leading the way in offering more support to those in need. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last September that free sanitary products would be provided in schools, colleges and universities from the autumn, while a pilot scheme offering free products to low-income households in Aberdeen is set to report their results shortly. 

 Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon has called for further steps to introduce a universal system, with the aim of making Scotland “a world-leader in tackling period poverty”. 

In this week’s Big Issue we celebrate a suffragette century with our oldest ever cover star – 104 (and a half!)-year-old Freda. But it’s still clear today, that 100 years after the right to vote was won, some women are more equal than others. We hear from the women striving for equality, still.