Isle of Wight Red Box Project formally comes to an end today

Spearheaded by Katharine Spencer-Brown, the IW branch of Red Box Project has been a huge success on the Island, ensuring that young girls don’t need to miss school anymore due to period poverty.

Cheque being handed over by Katharine

As soon as the Government announced they would fund menstrual products in all schools and colleges, the founder of the Isle of Wight Red Box Project advised the local scheme would be brought to an end. Today (Friday) is the official last day of the scheme.

The project was launched on the Island in the autumn of 2018 by Katharine Spencer-Brown and gathered pace and support incredibly quickly. Although not initially not from the Isle of Wight council (see detail below), they eventually pledged their support.

Winding down the scheme
From January 2020 all schools and colleges, will be able to place orders for menstrual products they need directly with the Department for Education, but in the meantime, the local scheme has been making sure all schools taking part have their boxes topped-up with products for those living in period poverty.

Katharine told OnTheWight,

“I’m delighted to say that this project has been an overwhelming success with over 90% of the Island’s schools and colleges taking up a Red Box.

“The closing of the project is a little sad, but it was only ever a stop gap until we could lobby the Government hard enough to provide free menstrual products in all schools and colleges in England and I’m delighted that this is now happening!

“The success of this project is due entirely to this wonderful Island Community. The people donating, volunteering, supporting and generally spreading the word about period poverty are what has ensured that no young Island person need miss out on education because of their period!”

Raffle winner announced
Thanks to donations from generous Islanders, the bank account for the IW Red Box Project had £700 sitting in it and Katharine decided to hold a raffle among the schools who participated in the scheme.

A whopping 36 schools entered the raffle, with Julia Lilley, Ryde Mayor Michael Lilley’s consort, picking the winning ticket from the hat.

Earlier this week, Katharine presented the winning cheque to Mr Kirby, Deputy Head and Mrs Poulton, Family Liaison Officer of Gatten and Lake Primary school.

Katharine said,

“I can honestly say that they both were absolutely delighted to have won. They are going to use the money for ‘a whole school’ trip!”

Mr Kirby and Mrs Poulton
Mr Kirby and Mrs Poulton

Money will provide support to all children across the school
Mr Andy Creed, Business Manager emailed the project:

“I am writing to thank you for the magnificent £700 Red Box Project cheque that you very kindly presented to Gatten & Lake Primary School yesterday. You must be so pleased with how well the project has been received and supported across the Island.

“These community monies raised through the project, will be used to provide support to all the children across the school and in particular those from families who are struggling financially. This will by way of providing additional subsidy to next years ‘all school’ trip, thereby further easing the burden on hard pressed families.

“I hope you see this as an appropriate use of these monies.”

Three cheers
Huge thanks goes out to Katharine, all the volunteers who helped collect and distribute the boxes as well as all those who donated items and money to this project.

You’ve all helped make a massive difference to those girls living in period poverty.

Controversial debate
Last November a motion from Cllr Michael Lilley calling for Isle of Wight council to “support the IW Red Box Project and campaign in their endeavour to raise awareness and tackle period poverty” turned controversial when Cllr Chris Whitehouse proposed an amendment removing the name of the project from the motion.

His amendment was seconded by the Cabinet member for Children and Education, Cllr Paul Brading and 17 councillors supported Cllr Whitehouse’s amendment to wipe the name of Red Box from the motion, with ten against and four abstaining.

There was outrage from Islanders outrage during and following the meeting.

In a reversal of the November vote, the year ended with the Isle of Wight council pledging their support for the scheme.

The winning school from the raffle, Gatten and Lake Primary, is in Cllr Brading’s ward.

Friday, 19th July, 2019 9:18am



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Youth

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1 Comment on "Isle of Wight Red Box Project formally comes to an end today"

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This can only be good news, as long as IWC is consistent in its support.

I have also donated menstrual products to the Foodbank, after checking that they would be welcome first…and will continue to do so.