THOUSANDS of pupils across North Ayrshire benefitted from free period products when the schools shut down last Friday.

North Ayrshire Council had planned to provide free sanitary products to over 4000 students at secondary schools across the area as they broke up for Easter.

But when the schools were forced to close last week due to the coronavirus outbreak, the council brought the plan forward.

The move was part of the Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s commitment to tackle period poverty and reduce inequalities.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Place, said: “This valuable initiative forms part of our highly successful period dignity campaign.

“Initially established in 2017, we were the first local authority in the UK to offer free sanitary provisions in its schools and libraries, community centres and public buildings and we continue to lead the way in our fight against period poverty.”

The progress the council has already made aims to address the growing issue of period poverty which sees females all across the county use unsuitable items, or nothing at all, to manage their period simply because they cannot afford the proper products.

Council Leader Joe Cullinane added: “Sanitary products are a necessity, not a choice.

“I wish for no people in North Ayrshire to find themselves in the embarrassing and often degrading situation of having to use improper sanitary protection because they cannot afford it.

“Periods are not exempt from poverty – they don’t take account of what is in your pocket or purse.

“Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we should continue to develop ways in which to tackle this gender inequality.”

He added: “The period dignity initiative is all about dignity and respect and we will continue to try out best to reach as many people in the community as possible so that no person in North Ayrshire who menstruates has the stress or worry of not having access to the products they need.

“During the uncertain time we will be reaching out into communities to ensure supplies are still available for those who need it.”