Update: Morrisons has confirmed that it will provide free period products to anyone who needs them in all 497 of its UK stores.
Customers affected by period poverty can claim free sanitary products in any branch of Morrisons by going to the customer service desk and either asking for "Sandy" or a "period product pack".
They will then be given a discreet brown envelope containing two sanitary towels without any further questions or any charge.
The "ask for Sandy" scheme was devised by Emma Parkinson, a Morrisons employee at a store in Bolton, based on her own experiences of period poverty. After it proved popular at several Morrisons branches, the supermarket chain made the decision to roll it out nationwide.
"Period poverty is a real problem and going to a school in a predominantly low-income area gave me an insight into what it’s like to have no access to sanitary wear," Parkinson said. "It's shocking that young girls and women go without sanitary products through no fault of their own so I’m really pleased that we at Morrisons can help to support those in need across the whole of the UK."
Morrisons has said it is also donating 125,000 sanitary products to local charities across the UK as part of its effort to reduce period poverty.
This story was originally published on 25 April, 2021
In an effort to reduce period poverty, two supermarket chains are now providing free sanitary products to anyone who needs them.
Lidl Ireland has just become the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products in all of its stores. From 3rd May, people who menstruate will be able to claim one free box of sanitary pads or tampons per month through the Lidl Plus app.
The supermarket chain has said it will also be donating sanitary products to a charity for homeless people. This acknowledges the fact that they may not have access to a Smartphone to use the app.
Aoife Clarke of Lidl Ireland said in a statement: "Since learning more about the growing issue of period poverty in Ireland, we’ve passionately felt that as a family retailer it’s in our communities' best interest to support young girls and women who are affected by this issue."
Meanwhile, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports that in the UK, certain branches of Morrisons are providing free period products on a discreet word-of-mouth basis.
In these stores, people who menstruate are being encouraged to "ask for Sandy" at the service desk. They'll then be provided with a small package containing free sanitary items.
A Morrisons rep said the "Ask for Sandy" scheme hasn't been rolled out across the UK, but could be implemented more widely in future.
Last May, a report by Plan International UK found that three in 10 young women and girls across the UK were struggling to access sanitary towels, tampons and other period products during the lockdown. Over half (54%) said they have been forced to use toilet paper instead.
In 2019, the government finally began to take period poverty seriously by making sanitary products available for free in schools. However, during the various lockdowns this vital supply chain has been shut down, making period poverty an even more pressing problem once again.