A woman is determined to end period poverty within Epping Forest by offering free sanitary products and underwear in schools.

Yve Oronto-Vidal, from Loughton, was inspired to volunteer for the Red Box Project by staff at Epping Forest Food Bank.

The aim of the campaign is to ensure all women have access to clean clothes, towels and tampons.

After discovering a branch did not exist within the district, Ms Oronto-Vidal decided to take up the role.

“My aim is to try and get as much information as I can out there so people who might not necessarily want to come forward,” she explained.

“It’s not just about poverty, it’s about being in a situation when you’re caught short at school as well.”

The part-time civil servant said some schools charge a fee for an emergency sanitary towel, which can lead to girls who can't afford them to skip class or school altogether.

She added: “If contraception can be free, there is a way for children in education to have what is a necessity for a female to be free.”

Started up in 2017 in Portsmouth, the Red Box Project is a national non-profit initiative led by three friends who were inspired by the news coverage of the global period poverty crisis.

Currently around 2,500 stations have been set up across the county to help young women.

A single mother of three teenage girls, Ms Oronto-Vidal has been creating packages most evenings with her daughters out of items donated by family and friends.

Debden Park High School and a school in Chigwell will be the first recipients of the free products next week.

Loughton’s Morrisons will be the first store to have a donation box and Waltham Forest Council confirmed every library in their borough will become donation points.

Ms Oronto-Vidal hopes a station will be set up in Redbridge and plans to approach more schools, supermarkets, Girl Guides and other public facilities to provide red boxes.

When asked why she chose to volunteer, Ms Oronto-Vidal said: “The fact that some women don’t or can’t go to school or work.

“Do I buy a packet of towels? The answer is no because I need food to survive.

“It made me feel so, so sad and upset. It’s the saddest thought ever.”

The mother of three is also welcoming anyone to volunteer across Epping Forest.

So far just Ms Oronto-Vidal and a 17-year-old college girl are the only volunteers signed up to collect and deliver products across the district.

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