The Homeless Period Belfast
1790. Katrina McDonnell
Katrina McDonnell, from Belfast, founded ‘The Homeless Period Belfast’, a volunteer-led organisation working to alleviate the issue of period poverty in Northern Ireland, particularly among the homeless community.
Katrina set up in the initiative in 2016 after learning about a similar scheme in the USA and realising how period poverty was amplified for people who are homeless. Mobilising an army of volunteers, Katrina’s project has distributed thousands of period care packs to a wide range of people in need, from rough sleepers and the homeless, to people who depend on food banks, refugees and asylum seekers to teenagers living in poverty and community youth groups. The initiative has successfully campaigned to have free period products offered in all schools in Northern Ireland, and Katrina has also formed a partnership with Lidl to offer a free box of sanitary pads or tampons per customer each month.
In a personal letter to Katrina, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Congratulations on the success of ‘The Homeless Period Belfast’ and all that you have done to lift the homeless community in Belfast out of period poverty.
“Alongside your army of volunteers, you have provided thousands of period products to those in need, as well as ensuring that period products are offered in all schools across Northern Ireland. I was also inspired to hear of your partnership with Lidl to offer a free box of sanitary products to customers each month.”
“I am really touched to receive this award and to be recognised for the voluntary work I have been doing over the last five years to alleviate period poverty, destigmatise menstruation and campaign for universal access to free period products. It is really important to me to acknowledge every single person who has volunteered to help grow our period pack project and #MenstruationMatters campaign as without them, we would not have achieved what we have today. I am really proud of the movement I have helped to create and hope that one day our work will be less needed as a result of our relentless campaigning and lobbying.”