The Monthly Gift: The Northern Quarter-Based Campaign Fighting For Homeless Women’s Rights In Manchester

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People and businesses across Manchester are campaigning to make sanitary products more accessible to homeless women and people in need.

The Monthly Gift, the volunteer-led group who spearheaded this campaign, are dedicated to providing items like tampons and sanitary towels to people who would otherwise struggle to access them.

Its main donation point is at Oklahoma in the Northern Quarter, but the movement has been getting increasing support from businesses such as COW, Nexus Art Café, and The Mustard Tree.

They are also campaigning in Leeds and Nottingham, and are looking to expand into more cities.

The Monthly Gift was conceived by Christina Ward, 24, who thinks the stigma around menstruation needs to be broken so that the bigger issue of homelessness and poverty can be resolved. She told Mancunian Matters:

“If you don’t try and break the taboo of talking about it [menstruation] and you don’t bring it up then you’re never going to solve the issue.”

Ms Ward was partly inspired by The Homeless Period, a national charity also centred on the issue of menstruation for homeless women.

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The campaign’s main donation point was initially at COW Manchester, but moved to Oklahoma earlier this year.

Iona Wills, marketing consultant at Oklahoma, said that they got involved with The Monthly Gift on International Women’s Day.

She and Ms Ward were chatting at a workshop, and mutually decided to move their main base there.

Oklahoma now has its own in-house Monthly Gift specialist who takes all donations to their associated charities to be distributed.

The Monthly Gift and Oklahoma are striving to destigmatise menstruation, and to help people realise it to be a fact of life. Ms Ward, 23, said:

“[The Monthly Gift is trying to] dispel taboos around periods, and to get people to talk about it.

“Basically, it’s really expensive to buy sanitary products, and women have their periods, and we need to be more engaged in it.”

This is a particularly contentious point as people can get free condoms from the government, even though they are not considered to be as much of a necessity as sanitary products.

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