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Free sanitary products to be offered in train stations

The products will be made available in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Free: The products will be available in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Free: The products will be available in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Creative Commons by Eric E Castro / Cropped

Train stations in Scotland's biggest cities are to provide free sanitary products for female passengers after a plea from a campaigning MSP.

Labour's Monica Lennon said she was "delighted" station managers for Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley had agreed to take the step.

Ms Lennon has recently consulted on a proposed member's bill that would place a legal duty on Scottish ministers to ensure there is free access to sanitary products in Scotland, including in schools, colleges and universities.

She wrote to Alex Hynes, the managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, which includes Network Rail, urging action to provide free sanitary products.

It emerged earlier this month that machines at Edinburgh Waverley charge £3 for a packet of four tampons while toilets at Glasgow Central do not provide any access to sanitary products.

In correspondence Network Rail said it was "delighted to confirm" it could support Ms Lennon's request and was looking into how soon free provision could be rolled out.

The MSP said: "This is an excellent victory for the campaign to end period poverty.

"Access to sanitary products in everyday settings is vital, especially as the onset of periods can be unpredictable.

"Keeping safe and healthy during menstruation is as much an issue of public health as it is about ensuring the rights and dignity of individuals. Sanitary protection should be no less available than toilet roll in public bathrooms.

"I'm delighted that Network Rail are now committed to implementing this and congratulate them for taking this step."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We are currently reviewing the provision of sanitary products at both Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central and plan to introduce machines offering free products at the stations in the near future."

In July, the Scottish Government announced a six-month pilot project in Aberdeen to provide free sanitary products to women and girls from low-income homes.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's programme for government subsequently committed to introduce a scheme to fund access to free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.

The government is now working with Young Scot to gather views from students and young people on the best way to access free sanitary products.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: "The Scottish Government is proud to have made a ground-breaking commitment to provide access to sanitary products across schools, colleges and universities.

"It's crucial that we seek the views of students both on their past experiences and how they would like to see sanitary products made available in the future. The feedback gathered by Young Scot will help us shape how we deliver on our commitment."

Louise Macdonald, chief executive of Young Scot, said: "Period poverty can seriously limit access to opportunities and services and has a huge impact on confidence and self-image.

"It's important we listen to as many school pupils, young people and students as possible to make sure we can deliver free sanitary products, without stigmatisation, at a time and place that suits them."

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