Free female sanitary products are being made available in North Ayrshire’s secondary schools in a bid to stamp out ‘period poverty’.

The local authority has launched the initiative - thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland - to give young women and girls struggling to afford basic sanitary products access to a free supply of towels and tampons at their secondary school.

The move comes in recognition of the growing issue of ‘period poverty’ whereby girls and women across Scotland are using unsuitable items such as newspaper and toilet paper instead of proper hygiene product.

The Council’s initiative will see the introduction of free sanitary products in all nine of their secondary schools via vending machines in the school toilets.

Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “Female hygiene products are a necessity, not a choice.

No young women should be faced with the embarrassment of improper sanitary protection simply because they cannot afford it.

“We want to reassure any pupil experiencing this difficulty that we are here to support them with this initiative.

“This initiative is just one in a number of ways we are working to reduce poverty and build a better future for our young people.”

Launching at Irvine Royal Academy, the initiative will see free sanitary products available in all of North Ayrshire’s secondary schools.

Irvine Royal’s Headteacher, Alison Crawford, welcomed the introduction.

She said: “As a female, I can’t imagine any young girl or woman having to be faced with the issue of ‘period poverty’.

“I’m proud that our schools are taking a stand against this and providing pupils the support and dignity they deserve.

“We are here to help and to listen. So as well as providing a supply of sanitary towels or tampons, pupils can also chat to staff about any concerns they have and we’ll support them the best we can.”