Impact Stories

Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics

The COVID-19 pandemic has made affording menstrual products more difficult. Job losses mean that more people than ever are struggling to purchase the menstrual products they need. United Way’s Period Promise campaign, presented by Pacific Blue Cross, offers a solution. 

British Columbians like you can tackle period poverty May 6th to June 3rd by giving financially, donating period products, or organizing your own Period Promise collection campaign. This year, United Way calls on BC residents to help set a new collection record of over 500,000 menstrual products – or their equivalent in financial donations – so we can distribute more product to community organizations across the province.

Period Promise at the frontline

Research has found that more than 95% of community organizations are asked by their clientele if they provide free menstrual products or know where they can be found. The United Way’s Period Promise campaign provides menstrual products to 75 of these frontline organizations, including Sereena’s Housing for Women. 

“Our clients face multiple barriers every day and when we have been able to hand them a full box of tampons it’s been a huge stress reliever and one less thing they have to struggle with”, says Tamara Straiton, Program Manager at Sereena’s Housing for Women. 

 Adding tampons, pads, and other supplies into our Local Love Food Hubs is so important because clients go to food banks and other community organizations for more than just food. These hubs provide food and prepared meals, but also stock household goods like hand sanitizer, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and other essential goods, including menstrual products.  

Every donation of tampons, pads, cups, or underwear raises awareness, reduces stigma, and tackles the vulnerability and isolation caused by period poverty.  

Unions and workplaces take action

Over the past four years, approximately one million menstrual products have been distributed to community organizations in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and Sea to Sky Corridor thanks to the generosity of donors and community members in our region. 

Each year unions and workplaces help United Way by running collection campaigns. Even with work looking different this year, lots of places are committed to helping out, including the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). 

Since 2017 the members of the HEU have run special events and collected products to help their community out. They’ve even signed onto the Period Promise Policy Agreement! This year the HEU is planning a province-wide collection effort with its nearly 50,000 members, many of whom are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. 

“[The HEU] advocates for this because we know it is an equity issue. We need to give folks what they need to succeed in life, and for many menstruation products are simply not in their budget as period products can be expensive”, says Karin Vik, Fraser Regional Vice President of the HEU.  

Organizations like the Campaign’s presenting sponsor, Pacific Blue Cross, have also committed to running a campaign in support of Period Promise again this year.  

“As part of our mission to improve health and wellbeing for British Columbians, we are proud to support the Period Promise campaign,” says Rob Chiarello, the Senior Vice President of People and Culture at Pacific Blue Cross. “We encourage other workplaces across our region to do so as well.”

You can get involved. Help us collect 500,000 by June 3rd.

United Way’s Period Promise aims to provide menstrual products to anyone who needs them, because no one should have to choose between food and period products. 

We still need your help as our work is not done yet. This May and June, we aim to collect 500,000 menstrual products or their financial equivalent in helping alleviate period poverty. 

Take action today: access the period promise campaign toolkit.