Greenwich Council

Decision details

Motion - "To support the implementation of the Red Box Project"

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

Resolved –

 

This Council recognises that poverty affects the lives of 33% of our child population here in Greenwich. This figure is increasing, and data from our food banks reflects the rise in need. However this Council recognises that the need is not only for food, but for toiletries and other personal necessities.

 

We recognise the need to provide free access to period products for all young women in schools. This Council will increase the number of collection points for the donations of period products and new underwear. We will utilise Libraries, Community Centres, Children’s Centres and Leisure Centres to provide access to free period products. We will work closely with the Red Box volunteers and recruit further volunteer help here in Greenwich.

 

This Council will raise the profile of Period Poverty, and we will set out an action plan to implement this.

 

The Red Box Project is a community project set up to tackle period poverty and provide period products to any young person who needs them. This is done by collecting donations of period products and new underwear from members of the public and taking them into schools and colleges. The items are delivered in Red Boxes which schools keep in a safe place for students who need them.

 

The project has been supported by local authorities throughout the UK. For example:

   Scotland has identified £5.2 million to put free products into all secondary schools, colleges and universities from August 2018.

   In England £1.5 million has been invested into the project “Let’s Talk Period”. This money comes from the revenue on the VAT charged on women’s sanitary products hence named the Tampon Tax. This VAT currently stands at 5%, which although better than the 20% charged on most goods still puts these essential items into the category of luxury items, and therefore not exempt from VAT. The annual cost of a woman’s period is £500, which some women simply cannot afford.

 

To date over 320,000 people have signed a petition to scrap the Tampon Tax.  petition found on Change.org  scrap the Tampon Tax.

 

In 2016 Parliament accepted an amendment proposed by MP Paula Sheriff that would end Tampon Tax once and for all in the UK.

 

We are all aware of the growing use of our food banks for essential food supplies for low income families and those families identified by schools and GP and churches as being in food poverty. The use of food banks in Lewisham and Greenwich is reported as having a 500% increase. In 2017 there were 586,907 3 day emergency food supplies given out nationally from 423 food banks.  Our own Foodbank gave out 6,433 3 day emergency food supplies during this time. This is a rise of 13% from 2016, and the figure in 2018 is set to increase again.

 

Families are experiencing poverty due to delayed benefit payments and low wages.

It is astounding to find that part of this poverty now impacts directly on the women in the community.  With the cost of providing basic sanitary products standing at £500 per year, it is hardly surprising that action needs to be taken.

 

Here in Greenwich, the Red Box Project already has 14 boxes in schools and colleges. These are: Eltham Hill, Stationers Crown Woods, Thomas Tallis, Newhaven PRU, Squadron (46) Woolwich ATC.

 

There are 115 boxes across Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark, Bexley and Bromley. Our Food Bank in Eltham is now also engaged in the Project.

 

The Council agrees a wider distribution of the Red Boxes across RBG to include Primary schools, Children’s Centres, Nurseries, Libraries, Fitness centres across the Borough. The motion is also asking for support to increase the donation points, and to advertise the Red Box Project widely through council website and information.

 

Councillor Bird arranged a meeting on Nov 6 with Becky Lopez the SE London Red Box co-ordinator to further discuss the process. I hope Council will embrace this opportunity to support our girls and women, and take a pride in prioritising people in need.

Publication date: 31/01/2019

Date of decision: 30/01/2019

Decided at meeting: 30/01/2019 - Council

Accompanying Documents: