Lidl to be ‘first major retailer in the world’ offering free period products

Period poverty: Campaigner on why she started ‘Free Periods’

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Starting today, those seeking access to menstrual products can sign up for their free monthly coupon using the supermarket’s app, Lidl Plus. The voucher can then be exchanged for a free box of sanitary pads of tampons, with the first arriving on May 3 and on a monthly basis thereafter.

The move will make the products available to women in more than 160 Lidl stores across Ireland, with the supermarket chain set to be the “first major retailer in the world” to offer these products for free on a nationwide scale.

As part of Lidl’s new Period Poverty Initiative, the retail giant has partnered with the Homeless Period Ireland charity and has committed to making quarterly donations of period products to The Simon Communities.

This is in an effort to ensure that those experiencing homelessness “who may not have access to a smartphone” will still be able to access the products if they cannot use the Lidl Plus app.

Lidl is also going to continue working with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association to provide free access to period products to its workforce, as well as in its clubs across Ireland.

Announcing the move in a statement on Twitter this morning, Lidl’s Irish account @lidl_ireland wrote: “We’re proud to announce that we are the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products in stores nationwide to combat period poverty in partnership with Homeless Period Ireland.

“A Plan International study on young females in Ireland found that almost 50 per cent of girls aged between 12 and 19 found it difficult to pay for sanitary products.

“Our new initiative means those in need will be able to claim a dedicated coupon for a free box of sanitary pads or tampons per customer each month through the Lidl Plus app.

“We are also committing to quarterly donations of these products to The Simon Communities to ensure people experiencing homelessness – who may not have access to a smartphone – can access essential products.”

The Royal College of Nursing defines period poverty as “the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints”.

The average menstrual cycle lasts around five days, meaning it can cost up to £8 per month for tampons and pads (though this varies from person to person).

According to a survey of 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21 by Plan International UK, 1 in 10 girls cannot afford to buy menstrual products in the UK and 1 in 7 have struggled to afford them at some point.

In 2017, the Freedom4Girls charity found that UK students are missing school because of period poverty.

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Lidl’s plans to help tackle this issue in Ireland have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response on Twitter.

One person said: “There’s a reason I’m a Lidl stan.”

Another wrote: “This is a brilliant initiative – (though it should be government funded) – so necessary, practical and smart.”

A third said: “I hope every other retailer follows suit!”

One spoke of a similar initiative at Morrisons: “Great news, hopefully other retailers will follow suit. Seen a similar initiative in Morrisons in the UK where a person in need can ask for the parcel SANDY left for them at the customer services desk & in the parcel is sanitary items. Well done, Lidl for leading the field here!”

Another tweeted: “This is great, hopefully the government will follow suit now.”

Elsewhere, Scotland made history last November by becoming the first country in the world to make period products free for anyone who needs them.

In February of this year, New Zealand announced that all of its schools would provide free menstrual products starting in June of this year.

England rolled free period products out across all primary and secondary schools in January 2020, a scheme which the government confirmed will continue into 2021.

The UK government has a period poverty taskforce with the main goal of combating stigma and education around periods, as well as the long-term aim of making period products more accessible.

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