Cousins Niamh and Izzy, 18 and 21 are participants in Voicebox Cafes. They’ve been taking part in the sessions at Citizens Advice Manchester since July 2018, and in that time they’ve developed #sobloodyovait - a campaign to tackle the issue of period poverty in local schools.
Izzy says "When we first came along to the Voicebox Cafes we thought that we were just going to learn about people who had already done things, we didn't realise we'd be encouraged to do things ourselves. But Vicky (Voicebox Cafes tutor at Citizens Advice Manchester) was like, do more."
Niamh says "There was a lesson on campaigning where Vicky asked if anyone had any ideas and we put ourselves forward. When I'd first heard of period poverty and realised that it was a real issue for girls and women in the area we live, I thought 'Why is this not a bigger thing? Why don't more people care?'.
"We've raised over £600 now to buy sanitary products for local schools, and collected even more. The next step is to get the sanitary products we've collected into schools. We've spoken to local councillors who've agreed to help us out.
Niamh acknowledges that there have been challenges too. "We've had plenty of people who don't agree with us or don't think period poverty is a real problem. When people are negative towards the campaign we try to hit them with facts and educate them. Men often put comments saying 'why is toilet roll not free?'. People seem to make a joke out of it and it's a serious thing.