Providing free sanitary products

Aberdeen pilot for low-income women and girls.

At least 1,000 women and girls from low-income Aberdeen households are to receive free feminine sanitary products as part of a six-month pilot.

The Scottish Government project, backed by £42,500 funding, will ensure access to sanitary products for local women in immediate need – while informing the future approach to the issue nationwide.

The pilot will be run by Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), a social enterprise focused on improving health and wellbeing for those in poverty, using established relationships with local partners through the FareShare surplus food network. CFINE will distribute free products, with an emphasis on ensuring dignity.   

Announcing the funding as she met some of the organisations involved at CFINE’s distribution centre in Aberdeen, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said:

“It is unacceptable that any woman or girl in Scotland should be unable to access sanitary products. That is why, as part of our wider aims to eradicate poverty from our country, we are exploring how to make products freely available to low-income groups.

“The pilot in Aberdeen is a first step to help us understand the barriers women and girls face – and to help us develop a sensitive and dignified solution to making these products easily accessible to those who need them.”

Dave Simmers, CFINE CEO, said:

“This is a very welcome development and CFINE is delighted to be involved. CFINE and our 60 partner organisations engaged in Food Poverty Action Aberdeen are very aware of the cost and challenges of accessing sanitary products for many girls and women from low-income households.

“Over a woman’s lifetime, sanitary products cost on average more than £5,000, a significant sum for those on low-income. Many cannot afford them and may use inappropriate methods or miss school. The findings of this pilot should be very useful in informing future action by the Scottish Government.”


The partner organisations involved in the pilot are:

  • HomeStart
  • Instant Neighbour
  • Women’s Aid
  • Aberdeen Cyrenians
  • Aberdeen Foyer

The pilot will operate across seven regeneration areas of the city, working with:

  • Cummings Park Community Flat and Community Centre
  • Fersand and Fountain Community Project
  • Middlefield Community Project
  • Northfield Community Centre
  • Printfield Community Project
  • Seaton Community Project and the Rehab Project
  • Tillydrone Community Flat
  • Torry partner organisations

CFINE will also work with Aberdeen City Council and North East Scotland College, with a view to extending the pilot to provide sanitary products for school pupils and college students from low-income households.

Pilot evaluation will take place, including management and co-ordination, distribution channels, and access to products by beneficiaries themselves. 

CFINE is the FareShare redistribution centre for Grampian – one of four in Scotland. The Scottish Government is providing £450,000 from 2016-18 to support FareShare redistribution of surplus food to organisations working with vulnerable people.


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