The social enterprise uses a buy one, give one free structure to distribute sanitary products to girls and women who cannot afford them in the UK.
The products will be available in 80 Waitrose branches from 13th of August and charities local to these shops will benefit from being sent sanitary goods to give to those in need. Sales in the branches will be tracked so Hey Girls will donate the equivalent number of products sold in each branch to girls and women local to them each month.
According to Hey Girls, one in ten girls in the UK struggle to afford tampons and pads.
Hey Girls is a social enterprise launched in January 2018 by Celia Hodson, a mother of two who has spoken about her own experiences of raising girls as a single parent on benefits and the struggles of affording sanitary products.
The products are environmentally friendly, made from sustainable natural bamboo and corn fibre and come in a recyclable cardboard box. The modern and striking black and white design features girls who work or volunteer for Hey Girls. It also includes the National Domestic Violence free phone number on the inside of the box: 0808 2000 247. The 10 pack sanitary pad box costs £3.25.
Educational workshops in schools on periods are run by Hey Girls for both girls and boys – it hopes to expand this work to more of the UK.
In August 2017 Waitrose lowered sanitary product prices so customers no longer had to pay VAT. The savings for customers since this date has been £121,000.
Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls, said:
“If you have to buy period products you may as well do something good with the cost. We set up Hey Girls to provide an alternative shopping experience for those wishing to make a difference with the items they purchase for themselves. By ‘buying social’ they are doing good directly via each pack they buy.”
Jen Brady, buyer at Waitrose, said:
“Hey Girls’ spirit of giving back to the community is a perfect fit for Waitrose. By selling the products we’re really happy we can make a difference in growing its impact on helping women in period poverty.
“Our customers will be happy to know that when they buy a box of Hey Girls sanitary products a local woman will benefit from a free box. It’s a fantastic initiative to help those who need it most.’’
Hey Girls has received investment and mentorship from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue, which has helped bolster the social enterprise’s ability to grow.
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said:
“We’re really proud to have supported such a dynamic social enterprise. We rightly saw great potential in Celia’s vision and not only invested in her business but ensured Hey Girls products were available to buy from the Big Issue Shop.”
“This inspiring social venture will put right a long-standing economic injustice, puncturing the poverty premium.”
Zoe Harrison, England Women’s Rugby U20s and Saracens Women said:
“To be an ambassador for Hey Girls is something I’m very passionate and proud of. To have Waitrose, a leading UK supermarket, supporting and promoting Hey Girls proves how positive and life changing this social enterprise is. The support of Waitrose is a giant step forward for the Hey Girls’ mission to end period poverty.”
Amika George, #FreePeriod Campaigner added:
“This is a hugely important milestone in the fight to end period poverty in the UK. No girl should ever be missing out on her education because of her period but with Hey Girl’s buy one give one scheme, more and more girls will be able to go to school with dignity, confidence and be the very best they can possibly be.”