By Liam O’Sullivan
Charity Freedom4Girls are are today running a fundraising festival called ‘Period Fest’ to tackle period poverty and break the taboo surrounding it. The day will include entertainment, arts and crafts, and plenty of food and drink.
The event will take place at Archive Coffee House and Bar, based on Kirkstall Road. Acts such as Rev Chunky Butt Funky, Sarah Morgan-Paul, Mean North Steel, Neve Stokoe, Lets sing 26 and DJ Yung Fox, will all participate in the fundraiser.
Freedom4Girls volunteer, Charlotte O’Byrne, said: “Period poverty is both the lack of accessibility to period products and education about menstruation. It’s been described as the toxic trio: not being able to get products, not having access to education, and the stigma that’s attached to it. Freedom4Girls try to tackle that.”
The organisation was initially developed from a concept project in 2013. This project aimed to help young girls in Kenya, which involved making washable reusable sanitary pads that were delivered to young girls in the area, as well as also giving them menstrual and reproductive education.
Since then, the organisation has expanded to the UK and Uganda. In the UK, Freedom4Girls have been predominantly set up in Leeds, however have now started to also operate in London and Leicester.
Charlotte explained the main objectives of Freedom4Girls. She said: “The first thing we do is period product provision, where we try to get products to people instantly.
“We put donation stations up in places like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and community centres. When that’s full, we collect them [period products] and deliver them wherever needed.”
Another main focus of theirs is educating young people. Charlotte added: “We go out to schools, community centres, youth centres, wherever really. We deliver them the education of menstruation because what we found is the education you get in school is very limited for a start, and teachers don’t really like doing it.
“They learn a little bit [at school], but they don’t learn about the fundamental things that are going to happen, and because of that there’s this stigma around that it’s dirty.”
Charlotte has expressed her optimism in terms of Freedom4Girls expanding. She said: “We will go further afield, but we’re a small team and we’re trying to do big, big things.
“It’s a slow process, but what we’re doing at the moment is something called ‘train the trainer’, which is where people who are responsible for groups of young people who might be menstruating can come get the training from us and then they can do the education themselves. It’s like a lovely pyramid scheme where no one gets paid!”
The stigma attached to period poverty is one of the key reasons Freedom4Girls focus so much on educating the younger generation, both boys and girls.
Charlotte hopes the event will raise much more awareness for what she believes is a subject still not talked about enough: “There’s so many people in the UK that can’t afford products on a regular basis.
“These are things that we should just know. When you think about it properly, it’s a little bit ancient that we don’t know, it’s a bit bonkers.
“The idea [of the event] really is to tell people about Freedom4Girls, tell people about the poverty that people are in, to raise money and products.”
“It’s not just for the charity, it’s for the community. We’re all part of this. If you’re a menstruating person, you want the stigma gone, and if you’re not, then you want the stigma gone for them.”
If you want to get involved with Period Fest 2022, you can pay as much as you want to enter, which includes unopened period products. All funds raised at the event go to Freedom4Girls.
The festival will take place from 4pm today (Friday, 30 September) until late at Archive Leeds, 94 Kirkstall Rd, Leeds, LS3 1HD.
You can also donate to Freedom4Girls here.