A PETITION has been set up calling for free sanitary products in schools to counter “period poverty”.

Women from Brighton’s Labour Party’s forum have started the campaign to help pupils from low income families who are unable to afford sanitary products.

According to charity Plan International UK, one in ten girls is unable to afford sanitary wear.

Mother-of-two Sam Whittaker, from Brighton, leads the campaign.

She said: “Our research to date has shown that there are charities and some foodbanks that provide sanitary wear but distribution to schools doesn’t seem to be happening.

“As such we decided to submit a petition to Brighton and Hove City Council, as we believe not only is this an issue that should be discussed, we also want to ask them to introduce a policy that addresses the very real need in schools.

“While we are looking to undertake some more formal research with Brighton University, to date our enquiries highlight that it is an issue in Brighton and Hove, particularly in schools in more economically deprived catchment areas.

“The stories we have heard confirm that affordability is an issue and that it has an impact on school attendance and bullying.

“What is also clear is that there is also a problem of stigma, with girls and young women suffering from low self-esteem.

“It is shocking to think that girls and young women in our local schools are facing this challenge in 2018.

“As a society we need to break the taboo that surrounds periods and recognise that sanitary wear is a necessity not a luxury.”

The petition, asking the counil to implement a policy to distribute free sanitary products in schools, is published on the council’s website.

It requires 1,250 signatures in order for it to be debated by the council on July 19.

School counsellor Katrina Foord, who works with students from three schools in Brighton, said: “Sam approached me with this campaign. I think it’s important to get the word out there. I’ve worked with students who do not have the necessary products to cope with their period.

“Because of this, students have skipped school, were bullied and suffered depression. They are bullied mostly by boys. And they are unable to participate in sports.

“Menstruation is one of the basic facts of the human body, but unfortunately it’s still a social stigma. It’s just shocking.”

See the petition here.