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Steps taken to tackle period poverty and improve menopause awareness in Sheffield

Ambitions to make Sheffield a period equity and menopause aware city move forward.

Period poverty can have a profound impact on both the mental and physical health of women, girls, non-binary and trans people who menstruate.

Not having the financial means to afford the right menstrual products can impact everything from an individual’s education and work, to being able to take part in sports and other important life events.

Menopause – which happens when someone’s period stops due to lower hormone levels – may also cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms.

In Sheffield, steps are being taken to make people more aware of the inequalities and stigma around periods and work is also being done to make menstrual products accessible to all.

There is also a focus on menopause awareness and promoting what this means for different people, their families, friends, and colleagues.

As part of this work, Sheffield City Council, in partnership with organisations across the city, are developing a new Charter that sets out their commitments to support period equity and menopause awareness.

Councillors have shown their support for the Charter in a Strategy and Resources Committee meeting on the 12th March 2024, where they recognised the importance of the work being done.

Councillor Fran Belbin, Deputy Chair of the Strategy and Resources Committee at Sheffield City Council, said:

“Both period poverty and the impacts of the menopause can be really significant to those affected. Not only can they hinder mental and physical health, but not having period products can prevent some girls from being able to attend school; the symptoms of the menopause can have really significant impacts on somebody’s day to day life, including at work.

“The impacts are far reaching and that is why I think this charter is going to be really positive for anyone who menstruates or is affected by the menopause here in Sheffield. I am really pleased the Council is taking action on this.

“There is also so much work going on across the city, by our partners and outside organisations, and I am delighted we have agreed to show support for those organisations and the initiatives they are involved in.”

Read more about the work of Period Positive here.

Read more about the work of Irise here.

At the committee meeting, councillors were asked to provide feedback on the draft of the Period Equity and Menopause Charter and agree to adopt the principles set out so far. 

They were also asked to commit to finding ways to offer the provision of free menstrual products in Sheffield City Council buildings, that are accessible to staff and customers. 

This follows the agreement of a new Menopause Policy for the Council being agreed by trade unions earlier this week. 

The issues of period equity and menopause awareness were first brought to Full Council by Councillor Jayne Dunn, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sheffield City Council, who was inspired by the GMB Smash The Stigma campaign, which promotes menopause as a workplace issue.

The development of the Period Equity and Menopause Charter and the introduction of the Menopause Policy marks a significant step in improving the lives of women, girls and some non-binary and trans people who menstruate in the city and workplace.

The Charter actively supports the achievement of the Council’s new Equality Objectives, and the intentions set out in the Council Plan.

It has been developed in collaboration with a range of partners, stakeholders and organisations across the city*.

Read the full report to committee here.

* African Womens Health Group, Citizens Advice, Community Youth, Disability Sheffield, Faith leader, Hindu Samaj, Faithstar, Family Voices, Firvale Community Hub, Healthwatch, Irise, IDAS LACs, MA Consultancy, Mums United, Orthodox Jewish Community, Period Positive, Radio Sheffield, Reach up Youth, Reform Jewish Congregation, ROSHNI Sheffield, SAYiT, Sheffield Buddist Centre, Sheffield Chinese Community, Sheffield Drugs and Alcohol Domestic Abuse Co-ordination Team, Sheffield Feminist Hub, Shelter (and invite peer researcher), Shipshape, St Mary's Bramall Lane Church, Thalassaemia South Yorkshire (TSY), Together Women, Young Carers.