Changes have been made to the way free period products are distributed in East Lothian in response to feedback from the public. 

Nobody should have to worry that they cannot afford to menstruate. We hope that this scheme will offer vital support when it is most needed

Free tampons and sanitary towels have been available in council buildings and schools since 2019. Following a change in legislation, the council consulted on its arrangements to make sure that products are available in a way that provides choice and dignity for those who need them most. Feedback highlighted the need for ease of access, privacy and discretion in supplies (particularly in schools) and satisfaction from users with methods which promoted choice and overcame barriers to access such as rural transport. 

Under the new arrangements, households can order supplies directly from award-winning social enterprise Hey Girls for delivery to their home. This includes environmentally-friendly tampons, sanitary towels and menstrual cups as well as reusable pads and pants. Items are freely available to order through the council’s website Free Period section

The council is also working with its third sector partners including Volunteer Centre East Lothian (VCEL), Fundamental Foods and CAB Musselburgh to introduce shopping vouchers that will allow their customers access to shopping vouchers for supermarkets such as Tesco, Aldi and Asda. People will be able to choose the products that suit them best and collect from the retailer alongside their regular shopping. 

Finally, new dispensers will be installed in public buildings which will hold supplies of products that can be used by anyone caught short while out and about in the county.

Depute Council Leader Councillor Shamin Akhtar said: “We’ve been offering free period products in our council buildings since 2019. Ahead of a change in legislation, we have worked with our third sector partners to identify new ways that we could make products available to those who need them in a way that is easily accessible, promotes choice and reduces stigma. We are very pleased to be moving forward with these arrangements. 

“While products will continue to be made available in public buildings, residents will also be able to order free tampons, pads and reusable items for delivery to their homes. Shopping vouchers for supermarkets will also be available through our referral channels so that people can choose what that they want directly from the retailer alongside any other shopping. 

“By their very nature, these items are intimate products and we believe that people should be able to choose what suits them and their period, and to be able to access them in a way that is dignified and in line with all other consumers. We have worked closely with our third sector partners and Hey Girls to develop these new arrangements and to trial them in the county. We will continue to monitor the scheme and roll out further arrangements, such as the installation of free dispensing machines in public buildings, over the coming months.

“Nobody should have to worry that they cannot afford to menstruate. We hope that this scheme will offer vital support when it is most needed."

East Lothian Council has received £94,000 funding from the Scottish Government to meet the legislative requirement to provide free period products under the Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Act 2021.

Published: Monday, 15th August 2022