In March 2020 Burnley Enterprise of Sports & Training (BEST) started a project called The Female Health and Hygiene Project. Following the national government’s ‘Stay at Home’ guidelines, within a few weeks it became apparent that some of the girls of the gymnastics club were struggling to access ‘period’ products. The organisation provided these for them in period-pamper packs, helping them regain confidence, and not be embarrassed by asking.
The gym decided to make the project accessible for the entire town. People had started stockpiling toilet rolls, something that project organiser Samantha Wright said was partly a consequence of having no access to period products. Some were using old articles of clothing as a last result.
Between September and December 2020, BEST delivered 4,000 packs to females across Burnley and surrounding areas. The bags included: sanitary towels, tampons, shower gel, shampoo, facemask, lip gloss, and deodorant, and various other bits and pieces.
Back in November 2017 BEST found that the numbers of females in ‘period poverty’ were a staggering 1 in 10. Later research during lockdown revealed ed that it increased to 3 in 10. And funds received from the National Lottery ran out.
“We knew we had a job on our hands to help as many females as we could”, said Samantha.
She met member Russell Ball, President of Staines Stake, who introduced LDS Charities and the Burnely Ward Elders Quorum President, William Haddock to her. William and LDS Charities helped BEST receive nearly £12,000 of funding, which enabled them to deliver a further 5,000 packs across Burnley around Christmas.
William said, “In one of the meetings I had with Sam at the centre she pointed out that she was struggling to get hold of hygiene bags to house the goods that the money would buy. I suggested that we could make the bags, thereby allowing our members to be involved and serve instead of just providing a financial donation. I approached Sister Carol Cryer (our ward Relief Society president and asked what she thought). Carol worked with Chester England Stake sisters and produced over 5,000 bags. It was amazing, but exactly what we have come to expect from our amazing sisters. Whilst LDS charities provided the money, the real miracle was how our sisters (and brothers) pulled together to make the bags.”
Continued William, “Sister Cryer and her daughters made a video showing how to make the bags. She sourced the materials, which along with the video, were distributed throughout the Stake. President Russell Ball initially met Samantha at a meeting, and it went from there. He got in touch with President Michael Gratton (Chorley Stake President) who in turn got in touch with me as EQP in Burnley Ward. President Gratton was very keen and supportive from the outset, and Chorley Stake funded a further £1,200 to purchase the materials to make the bags.”
“When you break the pack down into products, 80,000 sanitary towels were delivered with the funds that the Church provided for us. That’s incredible.” Samantha explained.
From September 2020 to the end of January 2021 the project delivered 12,400 packs to females of Burnley.
Samantha said, “Not only did LDS Charities provide us with the products we needed to complete our Christmas response, but they also provided links to an organisation. and people within it, with whom we can build a future relationship. William Haddock collaborated with Carol Cryer from Burnley who organised a far-and-wide bag-making mission. In total, between William and Carol and the congregation of Latter-day Saints handmade 5,079 drawstring cotton bags. They were so beautiful and so much easier to handle when packing. Each bag was made with care knowing that they would be helping make someone's life a little bit better; as a community you cannot put a value on that.”
She continued, “We will be forever grateful to Russell, William and Carol who helped us every step of the way. If Latter Day Saints ever need help from us that connection is available to return the help. We just wanted to say, thank you.”