poverty in Greater Manchester
Poverty in Greater Manchester has been rising over the years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Its government has devised several solutions to address the issue.

COVID-19 Impacts on Greater Manchester

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a collapse of the Greater Manchester economy as more than 4,000 businesses failed. The unemployment resulting from such business closures caused the number of people relying on Universal Credit to rise from 65,820 to 240,460, “a 38% increase from March 2020” to April 2020. It is because of these struggles and poverty in Greater Manchester that people have connected to form community awareness groups such as The Elephant’s Trail.

Homelessness and Poverty

A video produced in the town of Bury by The Elephant’s Trail titled “Made in Bury: Elephant in the Room” included interviews with the locals facing the pandemic’s impacts. Issues, such as homelessness and the inability to afford food, afflicted many people throughout the Greater Manchester area.

According to a Poverty Monitor that Greater Manchester Poverty Action managed, a nonprofit organization that focuses on reducing and preventing poverty in the county, in 2022, 144,770 children (one in four) are living in poverty and the number of food banks needed has increased twofold in the last five years.

Also, 15% of all households are facing fuel poverty, and “195,000 workers earn less than the Real Living Wage of £9.90 an hour,” the Poverty Monitor said. In terms of homelessness, the number of homelessness duties in Greater Manchester increased from 5,366 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 6,015 in the third quarter of 2021.

Response and Solutions

Leaders have introduced several solutions to poverty in Greater Manchester, including digital solutions. Amid the pandemic, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority developed the Greater Manchester Digital Platform, which includes an app that helps those in need connect to volunteers and support systems to assist them in tasks such as obtaining necessary food and medicine. It aims to reach all 2.8 million citizens of Greater Manchester.

In response to food poverty, in October 2021, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, launched the Food Security Action Network. The Food Security Action Network addressed food poverty by distributing more than “7,000 emergency food cards” for youth and “funding grassroots organizations” to provide support to those not eligible for other support. In October 2020, The No Child Should Go Hungry campaign launched. It provided free school meals to those not eligible and more than “13,000 Emergency Food Cards” for youth to use at grocery stores.

The Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network (GMHAN), which originated in 2017, is a network working with leaders to help the homeless. It provided funds to homeless shelters across towns in Greater Manchester. GMHAN also co-produced the Rough Sleeping Action Plan, a long-term strategy that addresses homelessness and makes plans to partner with agencies, businesses and communities to ensure support for those experiencing hardship. So far, Greater Manchester notes a reduction in “rough sleeping” of 29% from 2020 to 2021 and 67% since 2017.

The Elephant’s Trail

The Elephant’s Trail is a group of people from Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Salford. The members aim to be the voice for others suffering from poverty by documenting real-life experiences through film. Their goal is to bring awareness of poverty in Greater Manchester to the area’s leaders.

The Elephant’s Trail has partnered with other local and regional organizations such as Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Petrus Community and Unlimited Potential to aid the people of Greater Manchester. People who have worked with The Elephant’s Trail have said that the work has changed their lives because of its focus on co-production, or people with lived experience and professionals working together to develop solutions to common issues.

“Made in Bury: Elephant in the Room,” a video that a “reporting team from The Elephant’s Trail and video journalists at The Guardian” created, interviews residents of Bury about their personal experiences and how local group efforts help, such as housing and food that the Manna House provided. This kind of personal reporting helps top leaders make important decisions about poverty-reducing legislation and funding. In the video, Melanie Humphrey of The Elephant’s Trail stated, “How amazing to have a group of people with lived experience able to advise those people that really are at the top.”

The Future of Poverty in Greater Manchester

Poverty in Greater Manchester has seen some slight improvements due to the efforts of its leaders. The impacts of the pandemic still linger all across the nation, increasing the number of people experiencing mental disorders, malnutrition and homelessness. Efforts and successes like The Elephant’s Trail, which brings poverty in Greater Manchester right before the eyes of the government, inspire others to take action. With consistent efforts, the government of Greater Manchester can reduce both poverty and homelessness.

– Tara Boehringer
Photo: Flickr

New Prime Minister
Britain has experienced major changes in recent days, with entirely new faces of leadership in the monarchy and government. In the same week, Queen Elizabeth II peacefully passed away in Balmoral Castle and the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down, allowing for Liz Truss to take his place as the leader of the Conservative Party and head of the government. This will have implications on the U.K’.s foreign policy, poverty and general political affairs. Understanding the new Prime Minister’s political experience is necessary to predict her policies regarding poverty and the rising costs of living in recent years under former Prime Minister Johnson.

About Mary Elizabeth Truss

As a college student, Truss openly opposed then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policies and the institution of the British monarchy. During college, she served as “an activist for the centrist Liberal Democrat Party,” according to NBC News. Upon her graduation from Oxford University in 1996, she switched to the Conservative Party and ran as a Tory candidate in 2001 and 2005. She then became a Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk in 2010.

In addition to her position in the Parliament, Truss has held many offices and titles in U.K. politics that show her dedication and passion for issues in economic and environmental stability, women’s rights and food industries.

Despite the new Prime Minister’s shifting opinions and positions over the years that led people to question her loyalty and authenticity, her campaign to return to fundamental Conservative values, such as lower taxes and shrinking the state, appealed to her party members. The nation hopes she can restore Britain’s reputation and allow for a fresh start following former Prime Minister Johnson’s time in office when the British government was riddled with scandals and tumult.

Britain’s Energy Crisis

Since the Ukraine-Russia war, Britain has struggled with an energy crisis and economic challenges, which partially contributed to Johnson’s resignment in the first place. The inflation rates are the highest Britain has seen in the past 40 years, with costs of gas and electricity hitting record-breaking numbers.

Since the 1980s, U.K. inflation remained below 10% but increasing prices of energy, food and basic essentials have sent the rate to 10.1% as of July 2022. The Bank of England expects the rate to rise up to 13% in October 2022 after the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) implements an energy price cap increase. Energy bills are rapidly increasing as experts expect the energy price cap to increase by 80% from October following Ofgem’s actions, bringing the annual energy bill to a total of £3,549 for an average household.

The price of wholesale gas also poses a problem for Britain with uncertainty and instability looming. The Russia-Ukraine war has put pressure on most of Europe’s gas market and Britain is no exception. President Vladimir Putin has reacted negatively to the EU price cap and threatened to cut off Russia’s energy supply to Europe if the EU imposes the price cap on his supply.

Limited fuel and energy have exacerbated living conditions among vulnerable lower-income households, leaving 30% of households in the West Midlands living in fuel poverty. The End Fuel Poverty Coalition predicts that by this winter, 6.9 million households in the United Kingdom will face fuel poverty. Such a drastic drop in living standards with plummeting disposable incomes has threatened the overall health, economy and stability of Britain.

Truss’ Intended Policies

Despite issues pertaining to energy, gender equality, international aid and foreign relations, the public is clinging to hope for the new Prime Minister to improve conditions in the country. Her determination and dedication to the U.K. are clear, considering her heavy involvement in politics since her youth. She has demonstrated a clear commitment to NATO and the Group of Seven, ensuring the U.K. remains “an effective leader” on a global scale, which bodes well for the future of the U.K.’s international affairs.

Despite previously being outspoken on “lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts,” Truss has made considerable efforts to support the struggling British population with their energy bills. She has plans to freeze the cost of gas and electricity and cap the average bill at around £2,500 annually, but it is predicted that high-income households with larger bills would benefit most.

Questions also remain about the funding for such a project, with estimates ranging around £180 billion, which will also become a burden for taxpayers in the long run. Still, the plan is expected to decrease the severity of a recession and provide support for those struggling in the cold winter.

The UK as a Global Powerhouse

The U.K. budget once stood as the most influential and resourceful in supporting education for women, battling polio, providing food rations and restoring living conditions in many underdeveloped countries. However, following the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the U.K. cut the budget for the Department for International Development from 0.7% to 0.5% of the gross national income.

During her time as foreign secretary, Truss launched the International Development Strategy to focus on humanitarian commitments and investments in foreign economies. The British are hopeful that Truss will continue her advocacy to ease the burden on impoverished households and increase funding commitments for foreign development aid.

– Nethya Samarakkodige
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

UK-Rwanda DealOn April 14th, 2022, the United Kingdom signed a deal with Rwanda to send illegal asylum seekers to the African country and process their asylum claims there. The U.K. paid Rwanda £120 million (about $144 million) and promised to fund the logistics of the process. Though the Home Office claims the deal will disrupt the business of people smuggling, Rwanda’s past human rights violations led to many critiques that the humanitarian risks of the U.K.-Rwanda deal outweigh its potential benefits.

The Deal Set in Motion

The first flight to Rwanda was scheduled for June 14th. However, charities such as Care4Calais and Detention Action, along with individual asylum seekers’ lawyers, fought the flight on legal grounds, leaving only seven out of the initial 37 destined to board the plane. The Supreme Court, however, upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision to reject a motion to cancel the flight.

Before the flight could take off, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued an interim emergency measure after an Iraqi asylum seeker’s request. As the ECHR is not an EU body, the U.K. is still a member despite Brexit and must abide by the court’s decision.

The ECHR demanded that the U.K. and European courts take more time to decide whether the deportation was lawful. As per the U.K. legal system, the logic behind the measure applied to the rest of the passengers and the flight was canceled

Human Rights Risks of the UK-Rwanda Deal

The Geneva Convention 1951’s principle of non-réfoulement states that countries must accommodate those who flee persecution and cannot displace or return them to dangerous territory. The ECHR issued the interim measure because it considered that the Iraqi asylum seeker could face a “real risk of irreversible harm” in Rwanda, BBC reports.

Countries repeatedly infringe the principle by finding ways to remove migrants from their territory into a neighboring state, imposing additional entry requirements, or refusing access altogether. But transferring asylum-seekers to a country with a severe history of violating human rights 4,000 kilometers away would set a new precedent.

The U.K. has denounced Rwanda’s human rights violations and its refusal to investigate allegations of torture and deaths in custody in the past. Moreover, in February 2021, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda advised the government against choosing Rwanda as a candidate for deporting immigrants. The High Commissioner’s memo reported that Rwanda allegedly “recruited refugees to conduct armed operations in neighboring countries” and reinstated the country’s numerous human rights violations, according to AP News.

Yet, since April, Downing Street denies any human rights risks of the U.K.-Rwanda deal, going as far as to say that the East African country is one of the “safest countries in the world.”

An internal government memo two days before the deal’s signing further explains Downing Street’s claims. The message warned that if the U.K. chose Rwanda, it would have to close a blind eye to Rwanda’s human rights violations and prepare itself to face challenges from Parliament and NGOs.

Situation in Rwanda

Although Rwanda’s GDP has been growing since 2010, the country has made little progress in reducing poverty in its rural areas – yet about 70% of Rwandans are subsistence farmers, according to BBC. Kigali saw its poverty rate decrease due to investments in the tourism industry, but extreme poverty rose in the Southern Province. Moreover, around 57% of Rwandan households face food insecurity and the pandemic exacerbated the effects of the crisis, with even more Rwandans falling into poverty.

About 150,000 refugees from other African countries currently reside in Rwanda. According to a 2019 paper on the influence of Congolese refugees on Rwandan communities, the refugees’ presence brought both direct and indirect benefits. Rwandans living closer to a refugee camp had more chances to have wage employment rather than living as subsistence farmers and females had more chances for self-employment. Hence, Rwanda’s economy can benefit from migration.

However, the deported asylum-seekers to Kigali would likely fail to integrate as the intra-region migrants did. Most refugees already living in Rwanda don’t have a job and rely on welfare, according to BBC. If the system is overwhelmed, the risks of the U.K.-Rwanda deal mean that asylum seekers and Rwandans may fall into poverty. The Rwandan government initially stated it could accommodate 1,000 migrants from the U.K. – a claim the U.N.’s refugee agency questioned – before recently admitting the country only has space for 200. Nonetheless, the government assured that it would expand its capacities, a claim that, if not upheld, jeopardizes Downing Street’s ability to reap the deal’s economic benefits.

Future of the Deal

Despite being fully aware of the humanitarian risks of the U.K.-Rwanda deal, Downing Street chose to pursue the policy. The Supreme Court’s judicial review of the policy is due in September, according to BBC. Until then, it remains to be seen whether the courts deem Rwanda a country where asylum-seekers can find refuge without violating their rights and further worsening the host country’s situation.

Elena Sofia Massacesi
Photo: Flickr

U.K.'s Foreign Aid
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been facing significant challenges in helping Afghans struggling with poverty and food insecurity. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) said that “nearly 20 million people are facing food insecurity” in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the IPC said that 6.6 million of them are struggling with “acute hunger.” The key factors exacerbating food insecurity in Afghanistan are sharp economic decline, drought and high prices for food. However, the U.K.’s foreign aid to the WFP alleviates that burden which allows the organization to help the Afghans.

The Importance of Foreign Aid

The financial assistance from the U.K. and even other countries, allowed the WFP to provide nutritional support and emergency food to 17 million Afghans, according to the WFP’s website. This highlights the importance of foreign aid spending in saving the lives of those living in poverty or below the poverty line.

There was a feeling of hopelessness amongst international affairs observers regarding Afghanistan after the Taliban came back to power and the economy deteriorated sharply. Nevertheless, the financial assistance the WFP has received from countries willing to help gives people hope that Afghanistan can be rebuilt one Afghan at a time. The proof is in the accounts of the Afghans the WFP is helping.

The Success Story of Alia and Her Husband

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the pandemic has caused many Afghans, especially women, to lose their jobs and livelihoods. Alia used to own a beauty parlor in Afghanistan and her husband worked as a mechanic and both provided for their “four sons and three daughters,” the WFP reported.

However, after the economy collapsed and the Taliban took over, Alia lost her job because the Taliban would not allow women to work and her husband stopped working “because of health problems.” Nevertheless, the U.K.’s foreign aid to the WFP gave Alia, her husband and her children income and food. Furthermore, their children were also able to go to school afterward. However, they are not the only Afghans who received foreign aid that stabilized their lives.

The Story of Asefullah and His Family

Asefullah is a 13-year-old kid living in the Khost Province of Afghanistan with his “family of seven.” The family is living in poverty and their only source of income is the oldest sibling who “makes enough to buy bread and nothing else,” according to the WFP. However, after the U.K.’s foreign aid to the WFP, Asefullah and his family “no longer face many problems” because the food they have received kept them “alive for the past nine months.”

The story of Alia, Asefullah and their families shows the necessity of preserving or even increasing, foreign aid to developing and war-torn countries. Foreign aid not only reduces poverty but also saves families struggling to make a living.

How Much the UK and Other Countries Spend on Foreign Aid

The foreign aid budget is the most important tool in the international effort to tackle poverty. As of May 16, 2022, the U.K. is spending “about £11.5 billion” every year on foreign aid and international development. Forty percent of the aid budget goes to international organizations such as the U.N. and the World Bank. Liz Truss, the U.K.’s Foreign Secretary, stated on May 16 2022 that the aim of the U.K.’s foreign aid budget is “improving economic security worldwide and increasing jobs and growth at home,” according to BBC.

Furthermore, on May 16, 2022, the U.K.’s foreign office pledged to spend £3 billion on humanitarian aid “over the next three years,” considering it “a priority,” BBC reported. In fact, the U.K.’s foreign aid to the WFP in 2021 was £376.260.054 making it the fourth-largest donor in 2021. In other words, the lives of people struggling with poverty and food insecurity depend on the foreign aid budget of countries, specifically powerful ones such as the U.S. and the U.K.

Looking Ahead

Unfortunately, many countries had to reduce their foreign aid spending due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, it was reasonable to conclude that countries would not be able to tackle poverty and food insecurity in developing countries. Nevertheless, U.K.’s foreign aid to the WFP managed to stabilize the lives of families in Afghanistan. Therefore, this proves that the recent trend of reducing the foreign aid budget has not impacted the determination of powerful countries to help the vulnerable in developing countries globally.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in the U.K.
Like in so many other countries, disability and poverty in the U.K. are rampant. However, people often overlook the disabled in the U.K. because it is not a developing country. In the U.K., 14.6 million people are disabled and face prejudice because of their disabilities.

The Equality Act of 2010

The Equality Act of 2010 includes rights for those with disabilities. It defines disability as one having “a physical and mental impairment for a substantial and long-term negative effect on one’s ability to perform daily activities.”

Rights under the Equality Act include protection from prejudice and discrimination based on one’s disability. People with disabilities often experience discrimination in education and in the workplace.

Disability and Education

Of the 14.6 million people battling disability and poverty in the U.K., 9% are children, according to Scope. Children with disabilities are more likely to experience bullying and exclusion from the education system.

As of 2021, of the people with a disability in the U.K., “24.9% had a degree or equivalent as their highest education.” Comparatively, 42.7% of the non-disabled people had a degree. Disabled people are almost three times more likely to not have a degree at all.

Disability and Employment

Because they are less likely to receive an educational degree, disabled people in the U.K. are “less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.” The employment rate for disabled people in the U.K. is 53%, while the employment rate for non-disabled people is 82%, according to Scope. The employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people is 29%.

Because the employment rate is comparatively lower for disabled people than non-disabled people, poverty for the disabled is likely. In 2014, 18.4% of the disabled people within the working age, 16-64, experienced food poverty. Meanwhile, disabled people above the age of 65 are twice as likely to experience food poverty, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report.

The Disability Resource Centre

The Disability Resource Centre (DRC) is a nonprofit organization that helps battle poverty in the U.K. by empowering disabled people. In 1992, the Birmingham Disability Rights Group established DRC, and now, it advocates to improve the lives of disabled people across the U.K.

It is a disabled-led organization that offers a variety of services including advocacy, life skills development, employment and training opportunities, among many other services. Its mission is to give disabled people an opportunity to live out their full potential in society.

In 2019/2020, DRC served more than 3,600 people with 3,000 more people using its e-learning portal. Additionally, during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, DRC conducted 366 outreach activities to empower disabled people across the U.K.

Although disability and poverty in the U.K. are growing problems, organizations like the Disability Resource Centre are giving disabled people a voice and an opportunity to thrive in a hostile society.

– Chris Karenbauer
Photo: Flickr

Amy Winehouse FoundationRenowned for her album “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse skyrocketed to fame in the early 21st century as a British singer. Shortly afterward in 2011, Winehouse tragically died from alcohol poisoning at 27 years old. Her family created the Amy Winehouse Foundation in her memory to spread awareness about substance abuse and assist youth in need. Below are four ways the nonprofit organization helps poor communities in the U.K. and around the world.

  1. The foundation educates students about substance abuse. The nonprofit routinely gives educational talks in colleges and universities to spread awareness about substance abuse. Known as “Resilience Programmes,” these talks encourage students to make safe decisions, ask for help and better identify the signs of someone struggling with drugs and alcohol. To date, these talks have been conducted in more than 450 schools across the U.K. and have educated more than 350,000 students.
  2. The foundation houses young women in need. To help young women transition from rehabilitation centers to everyday life, the nonprofit offers housing opportunities to those in need. The foundation owns an apartment complex in London called “Amy’s Place” where “up to 16 young women” can live after leaving substance abuse treatment. This housing opportunity is important because it allows women to build a support network and help each other during difficult times. In 2019, the Amy Winehouse Foundation won the prestigious “Centre for Social Justice Award” for its impact with Amy’s Place.
  3. The foundation partners with other organizations to maximize its impact. To date, the nonprofit has partnered with the British organization Phoenix Futures to offer treatment programs to people in England, Wales and Scotland. Additionally, the foundation has partnered with another British organization called Addaction to spread awareness about prevention and treatment programs for alcohol abuse.
  4. The foundation helps poor communities in St. Lucia and Jamaica. Beyond the U.K., the nonprofit also offers programs and assistance to poor communities living in St. Lucia and Jamaica. More specifically, it funds music lessons for people struggling with addiction. These music lessons double as coping mechanisms to improve the well-being of participants. Additionally, music lessons are offered to disadvantaged youth as a way to expand their teamwork skills. The organization has helped more than 390 people in St. Lucia and Jamaica gain access to music lessons regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Overall, the Amy Winehouse Foundation has changed the lives of communities living in St. Lucia, Jamaica and the U.K. for the better. After listening to one of the foundation’s presentations, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, noted, “[I]t was exactly what we all needed to hear.”By sharing personal stories about substance abuse with others, the Amy Winehouse foundation normalizes these difficult conversations and provides people with much-needed coping strategies.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Furniture Poverty
The U.K. has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world, but nearly 40% of citizens do not have access to basic items. Furniture poverty in the U.K. is prevalent with over 14 million families living without basic furniture or in fear of not being able to replace or repair an appliance. Children come home from school without a table to do homework at, parents leave a hard day’s work with no bed to come home to and families have no couch to spend time together on.

Social landlords and government authorities are beginning to work together to end furniture poverty in the U.K. and rehouse people in need. Until the U.K. hones policies to account for the low quality of living that comes with furniture poverty and work to help struggling families furnish their homes, several organizations have a commitment to getting these families the items they need to feel normal.

5 Organizations Ending Furniture Poverty in the UK

  1. End Furniture Poverty: End Furniture Poverty is an organization that the FRC group created, which has a dedication to raising awareness and eliminating furniture poverty in the U.K. FRC is a charity in Liverpool that has been working to reduce and eradicate furniture poverty for over 30 years. The organization’s goal is to provide basic comforts to all citizens and raise awareness of the prevalence of furniture poverty. Encouraging people to find new lives for their old furniture rather than send it to a landfill is a step in the right direction.
  2. R&R Beds: R&R Beds is a mattress manufacturer that prevents mattresses from being sent to landfills. Instead, the mattresses can go to families in furniture poverty or retailers can recycle them into high-quality mattresses and sell them at affordable prices. Every year in the U.K., over 7.5 million mattresses end up in landfills when millions of people go without beds to sleep on. R&R gives these materials new life. These mattresses give struggling families a sense of comfort and the gift of a good night’s sleep. R&R partners with recyclers, charities and social organizations to retrieve used mattresses and provide new ones to those most in need.
  3. Orbit Housing Association: Most residences discard all furniture that previous tenants leave behind. However, the Orbit Housing Association offers furnished tenancies and leaves certain items for new tenants to use such as curtains or carpets. By salvaging abandoned items rather than scrapping them, the association saves low-income families from living without furniture or diving into debt to furnish their homes. Keeping furniture for incoming tenants is cost neutral and reduces the workload of the company’s maintenance team. This practice allows them to provide these furnished residencies for an extremely low fee that goes on the tenant’s monthly rent.
  4. Homestore: A fixture in East London, this secondhand store has been providing affordable furniture to low-income families since 1989. People donate good quality furniture and white goods such as fridges and other large electrical appliances. By only selling to disadvantaged people, Homestore is a saving grace for many families living in discomfort. The average price of an item at a furniture store is $72.96. On the other hand, at Homestore, the average price is only $19.65 offering significant savings.
  5. Community Furniture Aid: Based in Wales, Community Furniture Aid is a charity that accepts second-hand furniture and uses it to create ‘starter packs’ for families that need furniture. Volunteers run the company and the company can minimize expenses to provide packs at no cost to the families. It even stores donated items in an unused church without utilities. This is an example of how it takes every possible step to provide families with comfort at no cost to them.

Ending furniture poverty in the U.K. may not be the foremost struggle in the world, but without a sturdy mattress or a working fridge, it becomes hard for people to lead normal lives and be successful. For example, many consider items like tables, couches, dressers, stoves and washing machines essential for people to feel comfortable in their homes. It gives them the confidence to pull themselves out of poverty.

– Veronica Booth
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Period Poverty in the U.K.
Period poverty in the U.K. affects millions and the pandemic has exacerbated it. In 2017, research studies discovered that one in 10 girls in Britain could not afford period products. It also revealed that one in seven struggles to afford period products. Periods embarrass almost 50% of girls in the U.K. between the ages of 14 and 21. Meanwhile, one in seven have revealed that they do not know what happens when they have their period. Additionally, only one in five girls feels comfortable talking about their periods. In response to this, the nonprofit organization Bloody Good Period provides support for asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K.

What is Period Poverty?

Period poverty is a lack of access to period products and information on period products and menstruation. According to the charity Freedom4Girls, this issue affects more than 300 million around the world.

How Does Period Poverty Impact Asylum Seekers and Refugees?

Women who seek asylum in the U.K. receive 37.75 pounds ($52.90) a week to live on. This amount of money is not enough for women to live on or pay for monthly period products. Failed asylum seekers who cannot receive asylum support must rely on charities for their basic needs.

According to the Women for Refugee Women brief, 75% of the 78 women interviewed struggled to access period pads and tampons. These women had to overuse period products, improvise period wear or beg for money to pay for products. It is common for asylum-seeking women to have to choose to live without food or other basic needs to pay for period products. Period poverty makes it even more difficult for asylum-seekers to rebuild their lives.

What is Bloody Good Period?

Gabby Edlin started Bloody Good Period after helping refugee families at a London drop-in center. After learning that period products were not regularly passed out, Edlin questioned the logic. She started the organization with a simple Facebook message.

The organization takes a head-on approach to the issue, encouraging a simplistic approach that consults women on their period wants and needs. Bloody Good Period also works to start a conversation on periods to create a space where women do not feel ashamed of their period while reducing misinformation and increasing awareness. The organization is also partnering with The Body Shop, which funds education workshops on periods and menopause for refugees and asylum seekers.

Bloody Good Period’s Methods

Bloody Good Period’s partnership with The Body Shop has resulted in the donation of 10,000 packs to local charities and organizations for the homeless, women refugees, asylum seekers and refugees in the past year. The two organizations have been vital during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2021, Bloody Good Period has provided supplies to food banks, created community support groups and granted support to people facing domestic violence. It has also worked to aid asylum seekers, refugees and homeless shelters. The charity provided 53,000 products since the pandemic and 700 packs of menstrual products in March and April 2020. While Bloody Good Period has supplied a high number of products, the demand has been even higher during the pandemic.

Bloody Good Period’s work is necessary to fight period poverty in the U.K. Continuous support is always necessary, especially during the pandemic, because “periods don’t stop in a pandemic,” said Bloody Good Period’s founder Gabby Edlin.

– Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Unsplash