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 cylchcoch@gmail.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! 

We are really looking forward to supporting Cylch Coch by providing samples and information on reusable menstrual products to our local community. Thank you again for coming to chat to us about this inspirational project!

Find out more about this exciting project at Cylch Coch Facebook page!

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42 Responses

  1. Jo says:

    Such an important topic and it’s brilliant that you’re able to work together to help make a difference to period poverty 💚

  2. Caroline says:

    Such a brilliant initiative xx

  3. Maria says:

    What an amazing charity doing such a valuable task. It is absolutely wonderful that youngsters are getting info and informed about reusable sanitary products. I wish someone had told me about them when I started my periods.

  4. Katie says:

    Amazing work. Xx

  5. Siobhan says:

    What a fantastic initiative and organisation. If I think back to the period talk I had at school, and how the girls were ushered in to one room with the P word being whispered so the boys didn’t know what we’d be discussing, it’s no wonder periods are still a taboo subject. This it empowering and so important. Amazing work.

  6. Alison says:

    It also took me many years to really understand my periods and I only discovered reusable menstrual products earlier this year (I’m 32!) It’s so good to hear that you are helping so many young people to understand their bodies and their options. Keep up the great work.

  7. Becca says:

    Amazing work – I hope my daughter feels more comfortable about the whole thing when she gets to this stage than I did!

  8. Judy says:

    What a great charity. I’ve only recently learnt that period poverty exists in this country and it’s shocking!

  9. Sionna says:

    great blog!

  10. Beth says:

    Such an important initiative and organisation. It’s vital that we break the taboo around menstruation if period poverty is to be tackled head on. Bravo Babipur for supporting such a wonderful cause!

  11. Hannah says:

    Such a great initiative- love that all options are covered, wish we had something like this when I was at school x

  12. Jacqueline says:

    Brilliant work

  13. Jaime says:

    Such wonderful work being done by wonderful people. Tara, it also took me until my late twenties to feel empowered about my menstrual cycle and to learn to treasure and celebrate it. Thank you for all you’re doing <3

  14. Ruth says:

    What amazing work! So good to hear that reusables are being discussed with them…it’s the way forward to get girls out of period poverty!!

  15. Claire says:

    Thank you for such an amazing thing, i wish i had the help and knowledge when my periods 1st started, ive just turned 40 and still trying to get to grips with my menstrual cycles lol

  16. Angharad says:

    Such an important subject. Tara is an inspiring role model to these young girls too!

  17. Claire says:

    Excellent blog – I’ve only recently started to learn about CSP, via cloth nappies. I wish we’d have had similar information in school. Breastfeeding is currently keeping me period-free, but I’ll be investing in reusables in the future

  18. Sarah says:

    A decade after my periods first started I still had no clue that there were reusable options – you are doing such important and amazing work.

  19. V says:

    I started my period almost 20 years ago now (that makes me feel so old!) I wish there had been as much information around when I was first starting out on this horrible period journey. Keep up the fantastic work.

  20. Fiona says:

    Such an important cause, love the work that you’re doing (although I don’t love that it’s still necessary in 2019).

  21. Linda says:

    I am so happy that somebody is addressing this and educating girls and women on this taboo subject! Thank you!

  22. Rebecca says:

    Fantastic and inspiring work!

  23. Rosie says:

    Your doing a great job!

  24. Emily says:

    It’s incredible and sad that there are so many girls experiencing period poverty in these days. You are doing amazing work for them which will undoubtedly have a lasting and significant impact.

  25. Danielle says:

    Well done on your great work

  26. MVB says:

    Such a worthwhile cause, amazing work highlighting and supporting young girls as they start their journey!
    My PSHE class on discovering period support was sponsored by a particular tampon company and most of us were sent in that direction! I wish I had been introduced to CSP earlier!
    I’m investing in some now for when my periods start again after BF effects calm down! Xx

  27. Catrin says:

    Gwych. The more positive education the better, especially in schools for both sexes.

  28. Hannah Horsewell says:

    It’s great that people are talking about these issues and that projects like this are tackling the taboo as well as the poverty

  29. Emma Fosbrook says:

    Amazing work! Well done 👍

  30. Hannah R says:

    Thankfully this is hard to imagine for me and incredibly sad that this is a thing. What a brilliant project!

  31. Emily Woodcock says:

    So sad that this is happening today, but reusable products must make a huge difference! No need to worry about having the money to buy them every month. What a brilliant initiative to help these girls out.

  32. Emma says:

    Such a great initiative! Would love to see something like this all over the UK!

  33. Charlotte says:

    What a great idea! Love this 🙂

  34. Nat says:

    It’s shocking that even in developed countries there is such high rates of period poverty. You are doing fabulous work!

  35. Jen says:

    Fantastic idea! I am about to get my first cup…at 34 (a bit late to the game)

  36. Lise says:

    What a wonderful and empowering initiative, no child should ever have to miss school, sport or anything else for lack of access to period products. Thank you Tara and all of the other amazing people working on projects like these around the UK.
    It does irk me that people who would like to try reusables and would hugely benefit from the cost effectiveness of reusables just cannot afford the initial layout cost. I hope that as the government continues to be lobbied by period activists that they consider funding access to reusables as part of their reforms.

  37. Emma says:

    Great work! I wish that there had been something like this when I was younger, it’s great to see that information and access to menstrual products is being made easier for those who need them

  38. Chloe says:

    What an amazing thing you’re doing, it’s awful that so many women and girls face period poverty especially in this day and age. I wish it wasn’t such a tabboo subject as so many people have or will have periods it needs to be spoken about more.

  39. Emma says:

    Wish I had this knowledge and information that you’re passing on to other young girls. Well done ❤️

  40. Nerys says:

    What an amazing initiative 🥰

  41. Fiona says:

    So true that periods shouldn’t be a taboo. Keep up the good work

  42. Beth says:

    I think reusable are great becuase there’s no need to buy and no need to go short during a period. I hope lots of women and girls use CSP and that cylch coch promote them ❤️💕

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