Sanitary care

27th April 2015

News, Student news

A drive to increase access to sanitary products for homeless people in Oxford is being led by two Wadham students, Rachel Besenyei (2013, PPE) and Niamh McIntyre (2013, English).

  • Niamh McIntyre (2013, English) and Rachel Besenyei (2013, PPE)

    Niamh McIntyre (2013, English) and Rachel Besenyei (2013, PPE)

Rachel and Niamh are planning a week of events for Oxford Dignity Drive, starting with Wadstock on May 2 where fellow students will be encouraged to donate money, tampons and towels to support the campaign.

According to research by Bethany Bowen at St Hugh’s, about ten percent of homeless people on the streets of Oxford are women. However, the proportion of hidden homeless/vulnerably housed (in hostels or shelters) is much higher. Although women are prioritised for shelters of some kind, these places rarely have adequate sanitary provisions said Rachel.

Rachel explains the campaign: “I have recently been involved with the OUSU Free(r) Periods campaign, which aims to cover the cost of the 5% tax on sanitary products by selling them to colleges at cost price or lower. Whilst I was researching for this campaign, I read a few articles online about how difficult it must be to menstruate hygienically as a homeless person, and given that there are so many homeless people in the Oxford area, I thought that it would be an apt place to try to make a change.

Anna Bradshaw (OUSU VP for women) and Wadham alumna has recently amended the Free(r) Periods scheme to include a box which can be ticked by women’s officers to get colleges to match the number of sanitary products bought for the college with an equal amount to be donated to homeless shelters in the area.

Niamh and Rachel have contacted sanitary product manufacturers and are planning to go into stores around Oxford and ask them for donations directly. A team of volunteer reps each college will be in charge of publicising the campaign and looking after the donation box throughout the week of the drive.

If you would like to help or donate, please contact Rachel or Niamh at Wadham, support the campaign events below, or give via their fundraising webpage:

Oxford Dignity Drive events

Saturday 2 May: Wadstock. Find out more about the campaign at the Dignity Drive stand, from 12 noon.

Monday 4 May: Menstrual Health in East Africa with Irise International (in collaboration with Oxfam), Old JCR, Mansfield, 7pm

Tuesday 5 May: Abortion as a human right: should the law in Northern Ireland be reformed? (In collaboration with Amnesty), Okinaga room, Wadham, 6.15pm

Wednesday 6 May: Panel discussion: Removing taboos & stigma attached to menstruating, lecture theatre, St Cats 7pm

Thursday 7 May:  Housing and Homelessness Crisis in Oxford (In collaboration with On Your Doorstep) Shulman auditorium, Queen's College 4pm

Friday 8 May - TS Eliot room, Merton, Film screening; ‘The Moon Inside You' (time tba)