University College Isle of Man has installed machines that dispense free sanitary to increase the accessibility of female hygiene products.

It’s also to support students who struggle to afford sanitary wear.

UCM’s Student Services team had previously facilitated their own fully stocked ‘Red Box’, which offered free, emergency sanitary items to students who were unable to access the products themselves.

Hannah May, UCM’s health and wellbeing coordinator has noticed a rise in demand. She said: ‘Students coming in to ask for sanitary protection became a much more regular occurrence, which led us to consider a better way to meet the obvious increased need.’

Student Services’ experience is backed up by research carried out in 2017 by the UK branch of the global children’s charity, Plan International.

It surveyed a group of more than 1,000 girls and young women aged 14 to 21 in the UK and found that one in 10 were unable to afford basic sanitary protection, one in seven had struggled to afford it, 49% had missed at least one day of school because of their period, and 42% had to rely on folded toilet paper to get them through the day.

Four years on, and given an impending cost of living crisis, it is fair to assume these numbers will have increased, says a statement from UCM.

Miss May added: ‘Period poverty is a real issue, and we don’t want students missing class or other UCM activities, because they can’t afford basic female hygiene products.

‘We are proud of the wide ranging support we provide for students at UCM and are delighted to now be able to add this to our list of services.

‘The installation of these new machines has offered students the ability to obtain products discreetly across all of UCM’s campuses when the need arises.’

The government wasn’t able to tell the Isle of Man Examiner whether schools are doing the same across the board as it is a decision made individually by each school.