A PROJECT set up in Andover to tackle ‘period poverty’ in school age girls is expanding thanks to help of passionate campaigners.

The Red Box Project is a nationwide scheme with the aim to ensure no girls miss school through a lack of access to sanitary products.

The Andover arm was set up in May 2017 by Michelle McLellan but the team has now grown, with mother-of-five Niki Spencer jumping onboard in August this year after seeing an advert about ‘period poverty’.

Currently donations are given to the team and red boxes are supplied to schools which are often kept at reception, with the nurse, student services or with an appropriate member of staff and posters placed in the girls’ toilets to encourage any young woman in need of sanitary items to ask for the red box and take what she needs.

Initially Winton Community Academy were the first school in the area to take on a box and the it said that the project has been a “really useful facility”.

But the pair have now expanded to work with John Hanson, Harrow Way and Andover College, which have all signed up to take on red boxes.

And their work has not stopped as Niki has signed her two netball teams, work colleagues and her husband’s rugby team to donate the much-needed items.

She has also received donations from friends and family and even set up an Amazon wish list – getting her support from school friends who she has not seen for over 25 years - and a large delivery from Dubai.

Niki said: “The response has been overwhelming, I didn’t ever think I would get excited about a delivery of sanitary towels and tampons! I’ve found myself dancing around my kitchen in victory when I’ve opened an email from a school asking for a box.

“It is however bittersweet because there shouldn’t be the need in the first place and it breaks my heart to think of young women and girls out there struggling month on month to deal with a natural part of life.”

The campaigners are now looking for local businesses to get involved to install a box in their shop or office to give members of the public a place to drop off the sanitary products.

“Because we are yet to have a donation point in a “public” place, it is more difficult for the community to get donations to us, so this is a vital next mission for me, any help with this would be amazing,” Niki added.

To find out more about the scheme, search for The Red Box Project Andover on Facebook.