Go with the flow

13 February 2019 | North East England

Amber Scott, Erin Moffat, Eden McLaclan, Lily Burns and Grace Gibson from South Shields

Inspirational teenagers launch charity to help women.

Teenagers are not always given the credit they deserve. This remarkable group of girls are behind a new project changing attitudes to women’s health and in doing so helping the community around them.

The girls decided to make sanitary products affordable for girls like them living in the North East. They collect donations to make into care packs that are then distributed to their old high school as well as by local charities like Changing Lives who help vulnerable women in the area.

The group started ‘NE Flow’ whilst sixth formers at St Wilfred’s College, in South Shields. 

Erin Moffat, 18, one of the founders, explained: 
“We were just sitting around one day and talking about the issue of ‘period poverty’ and how one in 10 girls are unable to afford pads and tampons during their time of the month. We didn’t want anyone to have to go through that. It’s not right in this day and age and actually quite shocking that it is still an issue.

“Our aim was to try and ensure women don’t have to go without access to menstrual protection. That is why we started NE Flow. It was also because we wanted to give back to the community and actually do something. Rather than sit around waiting for something to happen, we thought, right, let’s step up.”

The girls also make sure care packs go to their old school, from which they have all now since moved on to employment or further studies. But they are still fundraising and seeking donations in any spare time they have through social media appeals.

“We keep the movement going because we feel it’s so important,” says Erin. “We meet regularly and are looking to get official charitable status to move it forward.”

As well as Erin, the other founders are Lily Burns, 18, Alice Sleightholme, 19, Eden Mclachlan, 18, Grace Gibson,19, and Amber Scott, 18.

They use social media as a platform to talk about women’s health issues but also tackle other topics like mental health and FGM (female genital mutilation).

“We have a Facebook page, and we talk about all the issues that girls might face. We have a lot of followers from our old school for example.  We want to educate them. It should not be anything to be awkward about. In fact, I think most young people are ok about talking about their period now. 

“And then if we can then talk about keeping yourself healthy in general that is a good thing too. We do get lots of girls private message us too for advice. It is not just a cost thing though, we also feel it is important to involve boys too. Some boys think you only get your period once, and that is it! So it’s important they know the facts.”
The care packs contain not only sanitary items but also deodorant, baby wipes, a breakfast and chocolate bar and bottle of water. And at Christmas the girls added gloves and a handwritten card, as a special touch to their boxes.

“All us girls are very passionate about the subject and intend to work in jobs involving social justice and equality. I guess you could say we are feminists and proud ones at that,” smiled Erin. “We want to make a difference and I hope we are.”

For more information, contact neflowuk@gmail.com or follow them on social media at @neflowuk.

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