The Brighton Period Project was born during a NCS social action project in Brighton. A group of young people led by Isobel, Sylvie and Isabella, researched local social issues and were shocked to find that period poverty is a huge problem in Brighton and Hove. According to a study by global hygiene and health company Essity, a staggering 46 percent of women and girls in the area say there are times they are unable to afford basic sanitary protection.
We find it heartbreaking that so many people don’t have the right products for something as natural and unavoidable as a period, and that some are forced to trade sex for products.”
The group got busy creating brightly coloured boxes for collecting period product donations from local shops including Morrisons and Hisbe supermarket. They also created and distributed posters for display in shop windows, featuring Tammy the Tampon, with information about period poverty and a QR code through which people could donate to a GoFundMe page.
The enterprising teens knew that they could spread awareness to a wider audience via social media and set up Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels to boost their campaign. However, they could never have imagined how successful these would prove to be. One of the first videos they posted on Tik Tok generated over 900,000 views and collectively their social media channels have attracted over 2 million views and over 6,000 followers since 2021.
These platforms have been used to not only spread important information about period poverty and help de-stigmatise ideas around periods but also promote the collection and re-distribution of period products to those in need. They have also generated a large number of comments, debates and conversations which help further break down taboos about periods.
During their NCS social action week the girls raised over £560 and collected around 800 period products which they donated to homeless charity ‘Off The Fence’. Their achievements were covered in news articles in The Argus and Sussex Express.
"We decided to use TikTok to promote the message of period poverty and ask for donations, and the response has been incredible," said Lola, another member of the NCS team.
"This is all new to a lot of us and it's great to see that we are making a difference, there have been great conversations and debates in the comment sections which shows that people are opening their minds to the situation."
And this was just the start.
Since then Isobel, Sylvie and Isabella have continued to build on the initial success of their NCS experience with the Brighton Period Project. Their social media channels have continued to attract thousands of views and they have grown an extensive network of business and charity partners in Brighton and beyond. They have collected over 30,000 period products and other donations from business partners include Morrisons, Aesop, Superdrug, Hisbe, Costalas Crafts, Brighton Pavilion, Lucy & Yak Brighton, Wolf & Gypsy Vintage, Charity auction For What It’s Worth and Lil-Lets UK Ltd.
The girls have donated these period products to Off The Fence Trust (Homeless and Vulnerable Charity), YMCA Downslink Group Brighton, Brighton Women’s Centre, The Clocktower Sanctuary, One Church, Sussex Homeless Support, Ukrainian refugees via the Polish Centre in Lewisham, LGBTQ+ charity Allsorts Youth Project and several local food banks. They also distribute period products through the Brighton Period Product Society which they founded at their college and now boasts 125 members.
Other initiatives run by the resourceful teens include fundraising through the sale of period-themed Christmas cards, bake sales, pub quizzes and period fairs. They also contacted Morrisons, Superdrug and Procter & Gamble to ask for help in developing a ‘P’ card that would allow access to free period products for people who need them. Isobel, Sylvie and Isabella are keen to build on their advocacy for government support for period welfare through information campaigns and networking with Brighton Youth Centre, Brighton Youth Council, and Brighton & Hove Citizens Delegates Assembly.
In February 2022 the girls gained further media recognition in Verge magazine and interviews for BBC Southeast and BBC Radio Sussex. In 2023 Isobel received a Lions National Young Leaders Award and £3000 for the group to use for their project. Possible uses will be period products, marketing materials and business cards for the enterprising young women to help promote their project.
NCS has nominated Isabella for a Coronation Champions Award in 2023. Her team also featured in an NCS Connect Superstars blog about their activities. Isabella hopes that all the publicity they have received will help inspire other young people to support period causes and get involved in volunteering in general. Several NCS graduates have already contacted the group to ask for their advice on how to set up similar period projects in their local areas. The girls have also attended NCS Lions Lair panels to advise other NCS young people on their social action project proposals.
“We thank NCS for giving us the tools and the confidence to continue to push the narrative way beyond the programme. We really hope we can roll it out to other parts of the country because we know there is a need for it. Hopefully, us reaching out to the big players in this field will come to something and help spread that change.” - Brighton Period Project’s Isobel Hallworth