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Manchester Youth Zone’s Girls Group take on topical issues

11th May 2021 by OnSide

Manchester Youth Zone’s Girls Group gives girls a space to talk and take action on topical issues. The group has recently been discussing female safety. Several of the girls shared experiences of feeling unsafe when outside alone after dark, and one solution that the group came up with was for male members to be encouraged to act as allies by walking girls home. Some of the other steps the Youth Zone has taken is to hold female only gym sessions and football training.

To address period poverty, they have been providing period packs for The Bread and Butter Thing food bank. They have also written to Lucy Powell, Member of Parliament for Manchester Central, to highlight this important matter and the ways the Girls Group has been supporting the local community on this issue.

“Period poverty is a challenge too many girls face when they should be concentrating on their schoolwork, instead – 40% of girls in the UK have used toilet roll because they couldn’t afford menstrual products and 68% said they felt less able to pay attention in class at school or college whilst menstruating.

We feel that given these shocking statistics that this should be raised in parliament with the intention of making it that all females who have periods have easy access to quality free period products.

Because we are so passionate about stopping period poverty we have made period packs for our pantry and for a local food bank (The Bread and Butter Thing). We got the products via asking for donations and we are going to do a sponsored walk to raise money so we can buy more period products to help women and girls have less stressful periods that don’t get in the way of school and work.”

Excerpt from the Girls Groups letter to Lucy Powell, Member of Parliament for Manchester Central

In her response, Lucy Powell MP commended the members passion and encouraged the group to continue with their campaigning. She also reinforced her commitment to the issue.

“I welcomed the announcement in the Spring Statement in March 2019 that the Government would fund the provision of free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England….NHS England has also announced that it will offer free sanitary products to every hospital patient who needs them from this summer.

This progress is a victory for all those who have campaigned for an end to period poverty. But, there is a danger we have been set back by the pandemic and it is vital that these policies are implemented in full and free provision is extended to foodbanks, homeless shelters and women’s refuges. I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government on this important issue.” 

Excerpt from Lucy Powell MP’s letter to the Girls Group

On receiving the letter, India, aged 19 said:

“I never thought in a million years that we would get a letter back from Lucy Powell MP! THIS IS INSANE! We are just girls from Manchester Youth Zone trying to get our voices heard and we have done it!”