KESTRA LAURENT reports on the fundraising initiative inspired by a scene in I, Daniel Blake providing sanitary products to the women affected by the Tory governments brutal cuts
Period Drama is a series of charity events focused on raising money to provide women in strained financial situations with sanitary items, aiming to specialise in reusable products, such as Menstrual Cups and Washable Pads.
It all got started after seeing Ken Loach’s latest film I, Daniel Blake. My friend Valentina Catto and I came out fairly shell shocked, like most people.
We figured a drink was definitely needed and went over the film together as we’d both spent a substantial amount of time watching it through leaky eyes; the cinema was a little chorus of quiet snuffles.
It can be quite hard not to feel defeated after a film like that. But also the flip side is that empathy and anger came out to give us the kick that’s necessary to do something.
What got to us most was Hayley Squires’ character Katie, a single mother of two, having to resort to stealing tampons. It was a humiliating moment for the character and we felt that absolutely no-one should ever have to be in a situation like that.
Getting products to shelters and foodbanks was clearly the aim but also with our little push of trying to get more reusable items out there, such as menstrual cups and washable pads — the main reason for this being that a menstrual cup will last for ten years on average.
A monthly reliance on foodbanks or shelter having sanitary products seems like a stretch, especially with this cut-heavy government. Having to go through the monthly thought process of “should I feed myself or should I not bleed on myself” is outrageous.
Knowing these won’t work for every situation, of course, maintenance of the items just isn’t always going to be possible but if we can get a few in for each donation drop, that’d be thrilling. So if any women are up for it, hopefully they’ll get the chance to try them at some point.
That’s the premise we’ve gone on. The Period Drama wasn’t going to be an actual charity, just possibly an event to get products to these women.
December was our first fundraiser, a Christmas market. It was so random and DIY, selling our own clothes, an aquarium, socks shaped as cupcakes, prints from artists, making up weird food price deals and, most bizarrely of all, it was held in a bar of the Aldwych Theatre in the West End.
Perplexingly we managed to raise over £600, plus a hefty-sized cardboard box of pure donations. All of the money we raised was spent on sanitary items, including 22 menstrual cups and 50 reusable panty liners. We then split these equally between Hackney Food Bank and The Marylebone Project.
The Period Drama is a sapling at the moment but I really do hope it continues to grow, I think collaborations are key.
There’s a couple of really brilliant organisations getting involved in the “period poverty” movement that have popped up over the last few years. Laura Coryton’s tampon tax campaign, Kate Milner’s A Bag For Katie and, more recently, The Homeless Period initiative are all gaining some serious momentum.
I’m also a big fan of the hilariously named Crack and Cider initiative. Started by Scarlett Montanaro and Charlotte Cramer, Crack and Cider is an online shop where you can buy essential sanitary projects for homeless women, which the owners then distribute in London and San Francisco.
It really feels like there’s a bit of a collective consciousness going on. Getting rid of some of the stigma involved with periods with a punky attitude approach is what we’re really down with.
Recently, we’ve started putting donation boxes together to go in the ladies’ toilets at pubs and music venues. The idea being that donations aren’t cash but the odd tampon or pad you may have floating around in your bag. They will be regularly emptied and go directly to a local shelter or foodbank. A few places are on board for it, a couple being the Old Ship Inn in Hackney and The Lounge in Archway. Hopefully more will catch on.
This month we’re collaborating with Hooray Cabaret: Bleeding Love, an irreverent comedy show run by Victoria Kember and Verity Lewis, who have been putting on ridiculously fun Hooray shows since 2013. It’s on tomorrow at Moth Club in Hackney Central. We have a special reduced price ticket called “If it bleeds, It leads” which will get you in for £8, providing you bring along a pack of tampons or panty liners to donate to The Period Drama. This month’s donations will be going to Hackney Food Bank.