Emma Whitbread, one of our Youth Development Workers, has developed the Blue Bag Project for Romsey Mill.

The Blue Bag Project is a new Romsey Mill initiative that Emma set up in 2021, with the aim of ending period poverty amongst young people in Cambridgeshire.

The project allows young people to access free menstrual products in a discreet and easy way without any questions being asked, by simply asking their youth worker for a Blue Bag.  It was set up in response to conversations with young people who had missed school or experienced social isolation due to lack of access to sanitary products.

A survey carried out by Plan International, in 2021, showed than in 36% of young people who menstruate struggle to afford sanitary products – that is equal to over 1,000,000 young people in the UK!

The project was piloted in Cambourne, and we are delighted to announce that all the locations where Romsey Mill works will now have Blue Bags available to give out to young people. We are working to equip all our venues and centres to have menstrual products available in the toilets and bags available ready to hand out when needed.

Romsey Mill has also recently partnered with the Cambridge City Foodbank, to trial having blue bags available in two of their distribution centres. Both centres found the project hugely beneficial and the feedback from families of young people that have used them was so positive, that now all seven Cambridge foodbank centres will have blue bags available. 

“The bags are a simple way for parents to collect period products for their children from foodbanks. It makes the young people feel special as though it’s a gift just for them.” – Cambridge City Foodbank coordinator

 Morrisons in Cambourne, Upper Cambourne Co-op and Waitrose in Trumpington are currently our donation points where members of the public can donate unopened packs of tampons, sanitary pads, panty liners, menstrual cups and other health care items that will be used in the project. We hope to have more distribution centres across the city soon.

Most schools in Cambourne are also on board with the project, including three of the four primary schools, and we are looking to expand this wider in the future.

“We’ve found that young people are starting their periods younger and younger and therefore children are caught out when their period starts at primary school. Often parents aren’t prepared and therefore we’ve found that bags a helpful way to educate not only the children but also the parents on what to expect and ways of supporting their children through this stage into adolescence. The leaflets within the bags are easy to understand and provide all the relevant information for children and their families” – SENCO lead at a Primary School in Cambourne 

A group of students from The Cambridge Period Project at the University of Cambridge who are also campaigning to end period poverty in and around Cambridge collected 783 period products from numerous colleges within the University as part of their “Week 8 – Donate” campaign and donated the products to the Blue Bag Project. Some members of the society joined us to pack bags and discuss more ways that we can work together in order to end period poverty.

Romsey Mill has received funding for our Blue Bag project from:

  • Cambridgeshire County Council’s Community Reach Fund
  • InKind Direct’s #commUNITY funding grant
  • The Ley’s School Community Fund
  • Bellway Homes Eastern Counties Office