Cylch Coch – Tackling Period Poverty In Wales
An interview with founder Tara Hall
Hi Tara! Thank you so much for coming to talk to us about the charity Cylch Coch. Can you tell us a little about what made you start the project?
I started the Cylch Coch project because even though we are living in 21st century there are still many issues that surround Periods. Period Poverty, Period Taboo and the confidence level of girls being only a few. I was shocked to learn that 1 in 10 women living in UK live in Period Poverty. 1 in 10 women cannot afford enough sanitary items every month, and may have to make some hard choices because of this. The fact that young girls especially, are having to make do with less sanitary items than they need, when they should be focusing on their education and having fun is unacceptable.
PERIODS are still a taboo subject, and this can have massive negative effects on women and young girls growing up. Staying silent about Period issues you may be having, or not knowing what options there are to manage your period can seriously damage self confidence. One of the main goals of Cylch Coch is to get people chatting about Periods, to help bring the Period subject out of the shadows and to normalize it. This is my Period- So What?
It’s taken me up until now, at the age of 26 to fully understand my Period, and to know what works for me. I don’t let my Period stop me from doing what I want to do, and I feel 100% comfortable during it (minus the crampsof course). I don’t want young girls growing up today to have to wait that long to feel comfortable with their period. With access to information and being able to talk freely about them, I think things will change.
It’s great to hear that you do workshops about periods at local schools and clubs. What do you cover, and how is it received by the girls and young women you talk to?
Holding School and club Workshops is by far the best bit about the Cylch Coch project. Being able to share information with the young girls in our communities is vital if we are to break the taboo around Periods and help raise their confidence.
We try to cover as much as possible. Starting with the biological process of a Period and what it might do to your body during your cycle. This is really important information for younger girls especially, who may not have started their period yet. We aim to highlight that EVERYONE IS UNIQUE- no-ones’ period will be the same as yours, and that what works for one person may not work for you. The important thing is, to understand YOUR period.
We also highlight the issues surrounding periods, especially Period Poverty and Taboo, which the project aims to tackle. Many of the girls were shocked to hear that period poverty exists in the UK. A few have even vowed to help combat it themselves- Cylch Coch is apparently creating future social activists.
The feedback we have received from the girls and young women who have attended the Workshops has been really positive. Many have said they feel more confident about their periods now, and know the options available to them to help manage their periods. During the Workshops we welcome questions at any time, and there are always lots. It’s brilliant being able to facilitate such an open environment where girls can feel comfortable to chat about Periods and other issues.
Donation bins can be found in local businesses to collect menstrual products for those girls and young women living in period poverty – how have the local community taken to this initiative?
Yes so, Cylch Coch aims to tackle any Period Poverty that may be present in our communities, but also break the silly stigma Periods still carry. Firstly, we aim to do this through engaging the whole community. The local donation points have been set up in the hope that having these will help normalize the Period subject and get people talking about them.
The support shown through the donation points has been amazing. People have really got behind the project and I thank everyone who has donated or even just mentioned the project to other people. Currently we are working around the Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog areas, in hope that the project will expand. The donation points are in the CO-OP and Eurospar in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Tesco and Wilkinson in Porthmadog. Look out for the Cylch Coch Logo.
Groups have also backed the project. The local Wild Swim group ‘The Woolly Hatters’ held their own donation swim, where they collected sanitary products. Events like these are amazingly helpful as they get more and more people involved in the project, more and more people talking about Periods and therefore more and more people actively breaking taboo. If anyone would like to hold their own, please do. For more information please contact us on email@example.com.
Within your talks do you cover reusable mensurable products? Do you find young people open to trying them?
Yes we do 🙂 As a big big believer in re-usable menstrual products I think it’s really important for young girls and women to know they are there as an option. During the workshops we bring in examples of all the re-usable products, so that the girls can see them and not just read or hear about them. We cover menstrual cups, cloth pads and Period Pants. We talk about how they work and also the benefits of each product.
At first some of the options baffle them, especially the cup. It can be daunting for a young girl only using pads, to think about using a cup. We chat about them, show information videos and of course encourage them to ask questions about them. Not all the girls warm to the idea of a menstrual cup. However, one older secondary school girl said, ‘I will definitely get a menstrual cup, as it will mean I can still go to swim club when I am on my Period and not feel uncomfortable’. This is the reason we hold workshops, to raise the confidence of girls and help them avoid missing out on anything they want to do.
For most of the girls the cloth pads and Period pants were their re-usable product of choice. They thought the pants were actual magic, directly quoted , ‘It’s like not wearing a period product’. Just the magic knickers and they are covered! The cloth pads BabiPur donated for us to use during workshops were a hit too, lots of beautiful designs. Periods can be pretty.
We know re-usable is the way to go, especially with the plastic crisis in the world, but it can be a hard change for some people. Especially for girls who don’t do their own clothes (and therefore re-usable pad/pants) washing. However, we hope that sharing the information and options with the girls at a young age may help them to choose re-usable products in the future. Not only for the environment but for a more financially friendly option.
Whatever you do, use what’s right for you!