The latest from our campaign with CSM Changemakers and UAL.
I joined the period poverty project in its later stages. I was excited to get involved, offering a Students' Union perspective in a new role as CSM Officer. I first came to understand this project through Jonathan Carson, CSM associate Dean of Student Experience and Enhancement, who introduced me to the project initiated by the CSM Changemakers (2021/22). The proposal was that CSM would trial distributing free eco conscious and sustainable period products via dispensers in student heavy areas and toilets, with a successful trial leading to a UAL-wide service.
Following discussions about the CSM trial, the Sabbatical Officer team had numerous conversations with UAL management to establish how a wider trial could be implemented. Polly Mackenzie, UAL’s new Chief Social Purpose Officer, expressed interest in backing this sentiment. It was decided that in times of climate and economic crisis, the need to provide students and staff with sustainable, free period products stretched far further than simply the University providing ‘emergency tampons’, implementing this scheme full-time.
Leonidas Liolios was the key student Changemaker who worked on period poverty. In his words, Leonidas reflects on the progress of the project and how it has evolved from being a CSM pilot project, to becoming a far larger, UAL-wide provision:
"Although I appreciate and am truly content to see free period products being rolled out across UAL, which effectively can affect the lives of over 22,000 individuals, it's frustrating that they will not be made available in toilets (male, female and non-gendered) as originally intended. Having said that, this is a step in the right direction not only for CSM (from where the project was initiated) but for UAL as a whole, and I remain hopeful that the project will be fully realised in the immediate future."
— Leonidas Liolios (he/him), CSM Changemaker for GCD 21/22 and Graduate Teaching Assistant
It’s great to see UAL, student Changemakers and the SU work in collaboration on a project. While it still is in early implementation stages, this project marks an important shift in how UAL – a world-leading institution responds to the Cost of Living Crisis – responds to student basic needs of free sanitary provision and ultimately, ending period poverty at UAL.
While I’m sure there will be scope for improvement, I am relieved and excited to finally say, after all these conversations and meetings and campaigns, it is finally happening.
– Words by Minna Ellis, Central Saint Martins Sabbatical Officer 2022/23