Rossendale mum helping to fight ‘period poverty’ given top Council honour

Published August 1, 2019 at 9:40

Samara Barnes has been added to the Council’s Roll of Honour for her work in setting up the Red Box Project in Rossendale Schools.

Mum-of-two Samara, from Haslingden, leads the campaign to help schoolgirls who may not be able to afford or access sanitary products – known as Period Poverty.

She is the digital communities manager of the Rossendale branch of the Red Box Project, which takes donations of sanitary products to distribute in schools and community centres for girls who need them.

Samara’s name was originally put forward by Councillor Alan Neal at the Council meeting in March, and it was agreed to consider Samara for the award.

Samara was invited to the Council meeting in July where the Mayor of Rossendale, Councillor Barbara Ashworth, was pleased to announce that Samara had been added to the Council’s Roll of Honour and presented her with the award.

Samara is also an area manager for children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Samara, 37, said:

I was on maternity leave and had seen news items on the Red Box Project and decided to try and set up a branch of the project here in Rossendale.

Period poverty can mean quite a few things, from girls not being able to afford to purchase sanitary products to girls – particularly those living as carers – who are not being taught how to use products. In some cases products are being withheld in the home as a form of abuse.

The reaction from schools has been great, and the boxes are being used which is wonderful. It means more girls are attending school more and not missing exams, which had been happening.

The Red Box Project really works because the community gets involved. Local people are supporting the girls and their local schools which is wonderful to see.”

Thanks to Samara’s work, there are now 15 collection points across Rossendale, including Tesco in Haslingden, Co-op in Waterfoot and the Riverside in Whitworth.

People can drop off donations of sanitary items here which will then be distributed across schools in the borough to give out to pupils in need.

It is estimated that one out of 10 young girls missed school last year as a result of problems arising from period poverty.

The Red Box Project has also lobbied government to commit to providing sanitary items in schools, which they have agreed to from January 2020. The Red Box Project will continue to support schools in Rossendale until the Government scheme is settled.

The Mayor said:

I was really pleased to be able to add Samara to the Roll of Honour. She has done so much for young girls in need in the borough and it is really important work that I hope gets more attention. Dedicated volunteers like Samara add so much to our community and they are invaluable to the people they help.”

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