The University and Union take steps to tackle period poverty.
We are delighted to share the announcement that the University will now start providing free period products on campus. This has been a really important and longstanding campaign for the Union, spanning many years of hard work, and it is fantastic that the University has now enabled this to happen. It’s been a real team effort and we'd like to thank everyone involved over all of that time from both the Union and the University.
The installation of two free-to-use vending machines, one in the Library and one in Eastern Gateway, marks a great step forwards for the University in helping to tackle period poverty. Commendations must go to all those involved from the University including Oliver Grant, Jill McKillop and Sara De Benedictus, alongside other members of the Conferences and Catering teams.
Special thanks too to our very own Wiktoria Swoboda who, alongside other team members at the Union, have been working hard over the last few years to apply pressure to the University to help provide free sanitary products to those in need.
The Union first started campaigning in 2016 to end period poverty at Brunel by lobbying the Government to abandon VAT on Sanitary products and for the University to provide free sanitary products to students. These things often take time but we welcome the VAT abolishment on sanitary products which came into force in January 2021 and now this fantastic move from the university to have free product available from these two locations and a commitment to develop further locations in the future. Throughout this time the Union has continued to drive its aims despite setbacks and has provided free period products itself to students from the Union Reception and the Advice Centre and provided free product to assist in emergency isolation packs provided by the university through the worst of the Covid pandemic.
Wiktoria, alongside others from the University including Henrietta Spalding, Beatrice Otudeko, Jelisha Catnott have created a group to work in collaboration with Oliver, Jill and Sara in order to change culture on campus and help ensure period products are available to anyone who needs them. The group plans to install more of the containers in key buildings around campus, starting with the Hamilton Centre (which will be paid for by The Union), as they want to make the products easily accessible, without fear of bringing shame or stress to students.
Starting in September, the group will also be looking to have more conversations about periods and remove some of the stigma around the topic, as well as discussing the challenges that periods can create, not only mental and physical but also the financial ones.
The Union are incredibly proud of the hard work put in by Wiktoria and her predecessors, particularly Mia Valada, Rachel Kerslake, Peri Sherif and Ali Milani to help apply the pressure needed to get the University to address the issue and would like to thank them all for their successful efforts to bring about positive change on campus. A big thanks too to everyone else from the University and the Union to help make this vision a reality, as this has been the culmination of many years of hard work from both organisations. We know this will be appreciated hugely by many across campus and we look forward to working with the University to help bring about more positive change in the future.