phs provides free-vend sanitary dispensers to education sector to tackle period poverty
Washroom services and consumables provider phs Group has launched a free-vend sanitary dispenser for schools, colleges and universities in a bid to tackle period poverty.
The purpose-designed free-vend dispenser was created in response to the growing period poverty agenda and rise in demand from customers across the UK and Ireland. It has already been extensively trialled in Scotland following a directive by the Scottish Government to make free sanitary products available to all pupils and students. In the Spring Statement today (Wednesday, March 13), Chancellor Philip Hammond was set to announce a similar scheme for secondary schools across England from September.
phs worked with facilities management companies as well as education establishments to develop a solution which would best meet their needs and offer free sanitary products to students in the most convenient and accessible way. Several establishments, including schools, colleges and universities, now have permanent free-vend machines from phs to provide free sanitary products to students. And since being introduced to market, demand has already started to grow across the UK – despite no legal requirement to provide free sanitary wear.
The phs slim line free-vend machines stock individually-wrapped sanitary products and can be accessed without the use of a coin. The units are offered by phs for rent or sale, with stock available from phs DIRECT.
Clare Noble, Head of Healthcare of phs, said: “Period poverty is a growing concern and an issue which needs to be addressed. Sanitary products are not a luxury, they are an essential and it’s been proven that being unable to afford these items can have a detrimental affect – whether it’s by causing females to skip school, miss work or expose themselves to health risks.
“Free-vend machines are a real solution in tackling period poverty. Installing these within washrooms gives females who need it instant and discreet access to sanitary products without the embarrassment or inconvenience of having to visit an office or school nurse. The products are also stored appropriately so they are kept clean and dry, dispensing one item at a time as needed.”
The University of St Andrews provides 15 free-vend machines for students within its washrooms, including within student residences, the student association building, the library and sports centre.
Gillian Jordan, estates cleaning manager at the University of St Andrews, said: “Providing a range of sanitary products in educational establishments gives girls choice and less worry around their periods, particularly if they have a low income. We collectively decided that free-vend was the most discreet way of doing this and they are now in place in the most appropriate and busiest buildings to ensure products are available for girls who need them. The feedback from students has been positive.”