A caring campaigner has spent the last two years voluntarily donating sanitary products to vulnerable women in Burton and Staffordshire after learning about their plight.
Linda Allbutt, 65, learned about the struggle of homeless women after a councillor from Stoke-on-Trent raised the issue of shortages of sanitary products at local food banks in the area.
Shocked at her discovery, Mrs Allutt said she was totally unaware that food banks were having to provide sanitary products to homeless women – something many people see as a necessity.
"The more I looked into it, the more horrified I was," she said.
"You think food banks, you think necessities. It’s either getting food or buying a box of tampons for these women with whatever bit of money they have left."
After looking into the subject further and speaking to local food banks, Linda, from Eccleshall, in Staffordshire, found that none of the banks receive donations from the public – and people aren’t even aware their shortages.
After writing to 150 MP’s in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent on the issue, Linda received just three replies.
"I thought, I’ll just have to donate sanitary products myself," she said.
Being a member of Unite, a dedicated group who protect workers’ rights, Mrs Allbutt managed to first raise enough funds to deliver her first sanitary product care package.
Linda purchased sanitary products and delivered them to House of Bread, a food bank in Stafford, and continued to do this on an ongoing basis.
Within one week, Linda’s fundraising page had reached a huge £1,000, generating support from many people in the area.
Linda decided to name her campaign "Period Power", a movement she didn’t want to sound weak or charity-like.
She now supplies sanitary products to five food banks in Newcastle-under-Lyme and 15 in Stoke-on-Trent with the help of donations, and soon hopes she can help women further across Staffordshire too.
After hearing about Burton Hope through a friend, a charity which provides food collection points all over Burton, Linda reached out to John Anderson, chairman of the group.
After generating enough funds, Linda was able to package up bundles including sanitary products, toothbrushes, toothpastes and more and delivered them to Burton.
"People are resorting to using anything instead of pads – they’re even using old socks. There are all types of horror stories out there," she told the Burton Mail.
"I’ve spoken to women in food banks who are making a choice of feeding their kids or buying tampons, so they’re obviously feeding their kids, it’s just horrific.
"We’re living in the 21 century in a very wealthy country. It shouldn’t be happening. I’m 65 and I’ve never known life to be as harsh as this.
"I just try to put myself in other people’s position.
"It’s a right. Sanitation is a right, a human right.
"These people are being punished for whatever condition they’re in and I just think it’s wrong for them having to pay the price for whatever has gone wrong in our country over the last few years."
Linda is hoping she can soon set up a system for her campaign where contributors can donate on a monthly basis.
Soon, she hopes to be able to deliver sanitary products to all food banks across Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.