Women have access to free period packs in six Brent locations

Cllr Eleanor Southwood in one of the six public toilets in Brent offering free period products

Cllr Eleanor Southwood in one of the six public toilets in Brent offering free period products - Credit: Colin Patterson

Women in Brent can obtain free period products in six public toilets in the borough as part of a trailblazing new scheme to tackle period poverty.

Brent Council has installed Flow Free vending machines stocked with free pads and tampons in Brent Civic Centre, and Ealing Road, Harlesden, Kilburn, Kingsbury and Willesden libraries.

The 12 month pilot offers those facing period poverty a discreet route for getting the products they desperately need.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood with the sanitary towels and tampons available free in six Brent locations

Cllr Eleanor Southwood with the sanitary towels and tampons available free in six Brent locations - Credit: Colin Patterson

Research from Plan International UK revealed three in 10 girls struggled to afford or access sanitary wear.

More than half (54 per cent) used toilet paper as an alternative to period products.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, responsible for housing and welfare reform, said it was "absolutely right" that people had access to the essentials of daily life, including period products.

“I know people can often feel embarrassed to ask for help. That’s why we made sure these Flow Free machines are installed in toilets, to give people privacy and encourage them to take advantage of this scheme.

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“By making these products freely available, we are fulfilling our commitment to creating a fairer and more equal Brent by reducing period poverty.

"I hope other London boroughs will follow in our lead.”

Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International UK, said: “We welcome Brent Council’s introduction of ‘Flow Free’. The pilot scheme will help to ensure that women and girls in Brent can manage their period with dignity and privacy.

"In becoming the first borough in London to make such a commitment, Brent Council is leading the way in the fight against period poverty. 

"Access to free period products is a critical first step in eliminating period poverty.

"On top of the cost, period poverty is driven by a ‘toxic trio’ of issues, which also includes a lack of education and the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation.

"That’s why, alongside free period products, we need high quality menstrual education and training for girls, schools and parents to help tackle the stigma and embarrassment around periods as well as the cost.

“We support the efforts of Brent Council to ensure that every girl has access to period products and hope that this initiative will inspire other councils to take action.”

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