The Monthlies; Project Naked by Hannah Mackay Tait
For five years, Project Naked has been running a blog (projectnaked.org) sharing stories from women and non-binary people about their experiences with their bodies. We wanted to change the conversation around bodies and give voice to people’s diverse experiences of their bodies – not just to promote body positivity, but to listen and to encourage open expression of people’s true thoughts and feelings about the bodies they inhabit.
With rising poverty affecting people’s ability to manage essential aspects of their body, such as menstruation, we wanted to do something more.
In the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about the proliferation of food banks and the rising number of people who rely on them to survive. More recently, we’ve seen a long-overdue discussion of period poverty and the fact that sanitary items are rarely donated but always needed.
Initiatives like The Homeless Period have been raising awareness of the issues associated with homelessness or poverty and period management, and we’ve even seen the discussion raised in Parliament both north and south of the border.
It inspired us to do something at a grassroots level to help people in our own communities who may need sanitary products but be unable to afford them. For those of us who are lucky enough not to live in poverty, paying for sanitary products can be an inconvenience – for those who rely on food banks and other services to survive, affording items such as tampons and sanitary pads can be completely beyond their reach.
We don’t believe anyone should have to suffer in silence and be unable to access these vital supplies, so we decided to launch The Monthlies. We are collecting donations of unopened packets of sanitary pads, baby wipes, tampons, panty liners, underwear, etc. – some of the essential supplies that people may need to manage their periods, and which no one should have to go without.
In addition to hosting collections at events like this screening of I, Daniel Blake, we’re organising monthly collections at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (the next will be on Monday 6th March from 4-6p.m.) and we’re in the process of setting up more permanent collection boxes around the city for people to donate outwith these times.
If you can afford to donate more than one item, we would love it if you could bring a variety so that people can be offered choice, just as those who can buy these items in a shop would. If you can’t bring any items, we’ll also be taking cash donations, 100% of which will go towards purchasing more essential products for distribution.
Items will be distributed with the help of the charity Streetwork and through the Trussell Trust’s food banks in Edinburgh. We are also contacting LGBT+ groups in Edinburgh, and want to remain mindful of the fact that not all people who experience periods identify as female.
We so appreciate the generosity that we have seen from people so far and the wonderful work that these charities do, but this isn’t a situation we’re happy about. Despite the compassionate work of these organisations, it shouldn’t be necessary. Food banks and the need for initiatives like this are not an inspiring sign of social cohesion, but a sign of a society that is failing too many of its citizens.
The benefits system – and the cruel government that controls it – is failing to protect people from poverty. It is failing to protect its citizens from homelessness and hunger. Everyone deserves to live a life free from worrying about putting food on the table, heating their home, or affording essential sanitary items. This project exists because it has to – but it shouldn’t.
Find out details about future collections by liking The Monthlies on Facebook (facebook.com/themonthliesedin), by checking projectnaked.org/the-monthlies, or by following us on Instagram @project_naked