558,765 menstrual products collected to fight period poverty
After a remarkable 4 weeks, United Way’s Period Promise campaign, presented by Pacific Blue Cross, ended on June 3rd.
Access to menstrual products can be challenging and COVID-19 has made it more difficult. This year’s campaign mobilized individuals, unions, labour councils, and businesses to be part of the solution in unique ways as we continue to navigate the pandemic.
From May 6th to June 3rd supporters organized production collection drop-offs and encouraged financial donations. The pandemic created unique obstacles for Period Promise this year, yet our community’s drive to help remained strong.
Donations are still en route to the United Way office in Burnaby, but organizers are estimating a total of 558,765 products were collected.
Increasing access to menstrual products
Where will these donations go? United Way’s Period Promise campaign provides menstrual products to frontline organizations in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Research found that more than 95% of community organizations in BC are asked by their clientele if they provide free menstrual products, so they are receiving them from the Period Promise campaign.
In the coming weeks, the campaign’s donations will be distributed to 79 local community agencies, including to the DTES Collaborative Society.
“We are asked for menstrual products every day we are open. Having access to basic health supplies including menstrual products brings a little dignity and ease to the everyday lives of DTES residents,” says Jill Ratcliffe, Food Security Director – DTES Collaborative Society.
“We are truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with United Way to support the basic health needs of DTES residents.”
Community members take action
Many community members stepped up to collect menstrual products this year, including the Tri-Cities Soroptimists.
With the support of United Way’s staff in the Tri-Cities, the group hosted a successful outdoor weekend product collection and awareness event. Bonita Zarrillo, City of Coquitlam Councillor, and member of the Tri-cities Soroptimists, was part of this initiative.
“People want to support people. In our community it takes just one person sharing an idea to have others ask “how can I help?”. When the Soroptimists of the Tri-Cities heard about the challenge they asked exactly that”, says Bonita Zarrillo.
“The Period Promise campaign has made it easier to talk about the realities of period poverty. This campaign has shone a light on the fact that pads, cups and tampons are expensive, and a necessity. There are too many people that miss going to school, work, sports games and practices, dance classes, and more just because they do not have access to menstrual products. With the Period Promise that barrier is coming down and in time period poverty will be a thing of the past.”
Partners help make our campaign possible
Partners also play a vital role in expanding our Period Promise campaign year over year.
Long-time partner Pacific Blue Cross, supported by CUPE 1816, led the way by presenting the campaign, signing the Period Policy agreement (URL) and running their own period promise campaign for the past several years.
Always and Tampax continue to provide menstrual products to Period Promise at a significantly reduced rate, ensuring more people in need get access to the product. They also promote the need to address period poverty nationally.
Clark Wilson LLP joined the campaign this year by sponsoring the volunteer drive, which included their own employees volunteering to count donations and prepare them for delivery to agencies across the province.
Another partner joining the campaign this year is London Drugs, who is amplifying the need to address period poverty. Their “Wellness. Period” campaign, running now through the end of June, is helping to get even more product into the hands of vulnerable people who need it, here locally and across Western Canada.
From all of us at United Way, thank you to our sponsors for taking such a leadership role when it comes to tackling period poverty in our communities.
Our work is not done yet
While the 2021 campaign has come to an end, our commitment and work to combat period poverty continues.
“Solving this issue is only possible when we come together to offer a bit of help, and this year more people than ever supported United Way’s Period Promise. That means we can support those in our community who are going to frontline organizations to get the product they need. Thank you to everybody who helped out this year, whether that was by making a donation, running a collection campaign, or hosting a drive-by drop-off. It makes a big difference to countless people in our community.” – Neal Adolph, Director, CLC Labour Department, United Way of the Lower Mainland.