By Ellen Gough
Anytime of the Month, the UL-based social enterprise fighting period poverty, is taking their fight to the corporate level.-
The initiative, founded in 2019, have recently launched their Workplace Ambassador programme.
Already on board as partners are local businesses Piquant Media and designer Aoife Ireland, along with the Labour Party and the Irish Women Lawyers Association, and global retailer eBay.
Ciara O’Flynn, the Education Lead for Anytime of the Month, says it’s good for a business’s reputation to be partnered with them.
“It means a lot. You’re committing to being a period positive workplace,” she said.
The Workplace Ambassador programme is similar to Anytime of the Month’s ‘network of friendly strangers’, which relies on individuals wearing an Anytime of the Month sticker or badge.
This lets people in need of period products know that this ‘friendly stranger’ is either carrying period products on their person or can direct them to where free products are available.
There are three different Workplace Ambassador programme packages on offer from Anytime of the Month: Silver, Gold and Platinum.
However, the programme is not just about providing free period products to staff.
It also includes a workshop to educate about periods and period poverty, and to help foster a comfortable and inclusive working environment for staff with periods.
“If your company is providing free period products it might encourage [your staff] to stay a little bit more but also work a little bit more,” Ciara said.
Aoife Hand is the Head of Sustainability at Aoife Ireland.
She’s also the former Team Lead at Enactus UL and was central in assisting Clodagh Guerin in founding Anytime of the Month from the very start.
“I’m quite privileged to have been around for the very beginning of Anytime of the Month’s journey.”
Aoife kept up to date with things at Anytime of the Month after graduating from UL.
When she began working for Adare-based fashion label Aoife Ireland, she saw in Anytime of the Month something potentially very valuable to her new workplace.
“We’re a female-led team,” Aoife said. “And sustainability is a massive part of Aoife Ireland’s ethos.”
The team at Aoife Ireland completed their Workplace Ambassador workshop around mid-March/early April.
According to Aoife, the team came away from the workshop having learned a lot but were shocked by the statistics behind period poverty.
Research conducted by Anytime of the Month shows that 35% of people have found it difficult to pay for sanitary products and 75% of people have gone longer than the recommended 4 hours wearing a sanitary product.
“I think they were just really startled at the volume of people that do experience period poverty,” Aoife said.
Personally, Aoife enjoyed the part of the workshop on inclusivity, with regards to cultural differences and language bias, and in particular, sign language terms for periods.
“It was phenomenal. I loved the sign language as well. I learnt a bit of sign language when I was younger,” she said.
The Irish Women Lawyers Association is one of Anytime of the Month’s newest Workplace Ambassadors.
According to Chairperson, Maeve Delargy, they signed up to the programme after attending Anytime of the Month’s networking event in April.
“Instantly I thought it was a great idea… it just seemed like a bit of a no brainer to sign up,” she said.
They have yet to complete the workshop but hope to do so by summertime.
The IWLA is an advocacy and networking organisation for women in law in Ireland.
By supporting Anytime of the Month and having their members take part in the workshop, Maeve hopes they can bring many law firms onboard as period positive workplaces.
“We’re not a workplace… in terms of the practical thing of actually supplying the period products, that’s not why we joined.”
Awareness of period poverty as an issue has been steadily growing in the past few years.
It received a major boost recently after Lidl announced themselves as the first major retailer in the world to offer free period products to their customers and staff in April this year.
Ciara says getting businesses like Lidl to start making a difference in the fight against period poverty is hugely important.
“They owe it, it’s a responsibility. We always say, you don’t bring toilet paper to work because you know it’s going be there, because it’s a necessity, a biological function.”
For more information on Anytime of the Month and how to get involved with them, go to anytimeofthemonth.com