Periods are a pain for many women and girls, and the cost of monthly sanitary products can be a frustrating addition to the shopping bill. For some, it’s simply unaffordable.

The average spend on tampons and towels is £4,800 over a lifetime. But those in financial difficulty often pay a much higher price. Unable to afford what they need, many are forced to use old clothes, toilet paper and newspapers as alternative solutions – or rely on friends and food banks.

Period poverty is a plight estimated to affect around 1 in 10 women in the UK. And with over 50 food banks in Greater Manchester, it’s a local issue, too.

Believing that access to sanitary products should be a right rather than a privilege, the organisers of the Bloody Big Brunch have created a thought-provoking way for people to come together, talk about periods without embarrassment and help end the problem.

Help end period poverty in Manchester - by drinking Bloody Marys I Love Manchester

Bloody Big Brunch is a brunch with a difference. Yes, there are Bloody Marys. But they can only be ‘bought’ in exchange for period products, which are then donated to individuals in need.

“The Bloody Big Brunch is a fun way to raise awareness of a serious issue and smash those period taboos,” says Celia Hodson, founder of Bloody Big Brunch partners, Hey Girls.

“Period poverty is real, and it’s happening – it’s just unacceptable that in 2018, one in ten girls in the UK struggles to afford menstrual products. We all need to work to change that.

“Raising awareness is important, but we also need to look at sustainable ways of tackling period poverty. At Hey Girls we thought that if you need to buy period products, then rather than giving shareholders a nice big profit, why can’t we do something good with that money instead?

“Our ‘buy one give one’ model means that for every box we sell, we donate a box away to a girl or woman in need in the UK.”

Help end period poverty in Manchester - by drinking Bloody Marys I Love Manchester

Menstrual products can be bought at the event directly from Hey Girls and then all products will be shared between charities Every Month and The Red Box Project who support women in need.

With over 50 food banks in Greater Manchester, period poverty is an acute problem,” says Rosy Candlin, founder of Every Month. 

“Every Month is trying to meet the demand for menstrual products as much as possible, delivering up to 300 packs each month. Ultimately, we believe this is the responsibility of the government. Everyone has the right to menstrual products and we won’t stop until this right is upheld.”

Brunches have taken place in Glasgow, London and Edinburgh, attracting almost 4,500 donations so far. A wider national initiative will be announced at the Manchester event.

Fresh from a five-star run at the Edinburgh Festival, the Manchester brunch will be hosted by comedian and #periodpositive founder, Chella Quint. There will also be talks from period campaigners as well as a packed schedule of entertainment.

“Ensuring access to disposable and reusable menstrual products depends on a number of crucial factors – not everyone has the confidence to say ‘menstrual’ or ‘period’ in public, has the knowledge of the benefits or suitability of different products, money to buy what they need, or awareness of informed, open people and places prepared to help,” says Chella.

“With taboo-breaking and thought-provoking activities like the ones shared through #periodpositive and by joining up with events like the Bloody Big Brunch, we can get people talking, thinking and sharing more, and develop long-term solutions to end period poverty.”

Help end period poverty in Manchester - by drinking Bloody Marys I Love Manchester

Period poverty is a cause close to Stacey Solomon’s heart. An ambassador for Bloody Big Brunch, the singer and TV presenter will be attending the Manchester event.

“I’ve been told off on social media because I’ll talk openly about all the realities of periods – from spots to mood swings to the hazards of being caught out while wearing white jeans!” says Stacey.

“But for so many other women, having a period is even worse because they can’t afford access to products. I think the Bloody Big Brunch is a bloody brilliant way to get more people talking about it and helping to end period poverty.

“I also like a cheeky Bloody Mary, what can I say?”

Big Bloody Brunch will take place at at Tribeca, 50 Sackville Street, on Saturday 8th September from 12pm-4pm.

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