News | 26.11.21

Hey Girls to deliver period products and education through new £1m Big Sister project

Women in Sports teenagers

Hey Girls has been selected to deliver period health education and period products to young people across the UK in a new £1m ‘Big Sister’ project, which aims helps to improve confidence, wellbeing and activity levels amongst teenage girls.

The joint project will be delivered by us, Places Leisure, Places Foundation and Women in Sport. The consortium of organisations was awarded £1m from the final Tampon Tax Fund for the project which aims to break down the deep-seated barriers that teenage girls face to leading healthy, happy and active lives by creating a supportive network of ‘Big Sisters’.

According to recent research: “Girls are losing their love of sport during teenage years at an alarming rate, and ruling themselves out rather than in.”

Women in Sports Stats 1

The programme will work with girls in target areas aged 9-15 and help them to feel ‘sport ready’ by recruiting a network of “big sisters” made up of peer leaders and supporters from sport, school and community organisations. Girls in the programme will be offered free girl-focused exercise sessions and gym memberships as well as free period products and digital resource packs from Hey Girls to help them feel confident enough to take part in sport.

The project will be delivered in Norwich, Derby, Sheffield and Rotherham where there are Places Leisure centres, and in another seven locations where Places for People manage homes and communities.

As part of the Big Sister scheme, we’ll be supplying our award-winning period products to each of the leisure centres and undertaking a comprehensive programme of period education.

Through its research, Women in Sport found that young women and girls, particularly those in areas of higher deprivation, face significant barriers to accessing and maintaining active lifestyles. The charity identified four key challenges: affordability, body confidence, period poverty and worry about safety or harassment.

Wendy Hawk, Head of Engagement at Women in Sport said: “1 in 3 young girls avoid sport and exercise because they feel self-conscious about their appearance. There is also a lack of knowledge of how to cope with the onset of puberty with only 10% of teenage girls reporting wearing a sports bra for exercise – more than half have never worn one.

Periods and period poverty further prevent girls from maintaining active. 7 out of 10 girls often avoid playing sport when they have their period and millions of young girls avoid after-school clubs and sports because of their period. Action needs to be taken to give girls and young women the chance to lead happy, healthy, active lives, which is why we developed the ‘Big Sister’ initiative.

We are absolutely delighted to receive the funding from the Tampon Tax to make this vision a reality. We are delighted to bring together an incredible consortium of partners to help ensure that girls and young women are no longer excluded from physical activity and sport. Together we will support more young women to be active in their own community and enable girls to support other girls at a key time in their lives.”

Debi Marriott-Lavery, Executive Director – Affordable Housing at Places for People added: “Millions of teenage girls up and down the country face huge emotional and physical barriers when it comes to playing sports, including lack of body confidence and access to period products. We want to make sure that young women and girls aren’t excluded from participative, engaging physical activity close to home, and that they can access opportunities to lead a healthy and active life.In addition to  this the latest research from Women in Sports shows that : “All girls   even the most sporty, need more support to manage the physical and emotional impact of puberty on physical activity”.Women in Sports Stats 2

More about the scheme
The ‘Big Sister’ programme will help girls aged 9-15 in target areas feel ‘sport ready’ by recruiting a network of ‘big sisters’ – peer leaders and supporters from sport, school and community organisations. Sport leaders will be trained on the emotional and physical barriers girls face, and girls taking part in the programme will be offered free girl-focused exercise sessions and gym memberships. There will also be free reusable period products and digital resource packs to help girls feel confident enough to take part in sport.Kate Smith, Education Manager & Co-Founder of Hey Girls, said: “Access to quality period products is a right not a privilege. We are really pleased to have received this funding from the Tampon Tax Fund and are looking forward to working with Places Leisure, Women in Sport and Places for People to deliver period health awareness projects and access to our period products to support the health and wellbeing of young people in the UK.”Kate Smith Hey Girls