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‘Improving menstrual hygiene comes to fruition with the right pushing’: The Cambridge Period Project

On the Cambridge Period Project (TCPP): inspirations, major accomplishments and objectives


While the media paints Cambridge as synonymous with wealth and prominence, a look into statistics will reveal the city’s inequality, manifesting in; staggering levels of homelessness, unemployment, health care, and specifically for those who menstruate, period poverty. 

This crisis is precisely what The Cambridge Period Project (TCPP) strives to address. The Tab sits down with Lily Ingram, a final-year HSPS student from Peterhouse and the TCPP Liason Officer, to discuss her experience working on the campaign.

TCPP Executive Committee (Image credits: Lily Ingram)

Inspiration for the Campaign’s Beginnings

When the campaign first began, “there were no formal roles or executive committee positions like we have today. It all started when a few of us participating in the Cambridge Students for Global Health initiative began to do research on menstrual health provisions and access to menstrual products.” 

Quickly, Lily and other founders of TCPP realised that a more consistent hygiene infrastructure was needed across the university. “Through surveying JCR and MCR Women and Marginalised Genders Officers, we realised that menstrual health provisions vary between colleges.”

In a survey of 630 students, they even found that “51 per cent of university students find purchasing period products to be a financial burden.”

“When we started, we knew we wanted something like the central SU Health Product Scheme ensuring that sexual health supplies are consistently accessible.”  From there, the campaign emerged organically with a small group of similarly-passioned members aspiring to make period products free and accessible, officially launching the campaign in January 2021 and continuing to this day. 

What is The Cambridge Period Project (TCPP)?

“We undertake various projects to achieve our ultimate goal of allowing everyone to menstruate without a burden by making period products free and accessible.” 

In the past, “we have approached the Student Union, the University General Board’s Education Committee, heads of all 31 colleges, and the university Vice-Chancellor.” Additionally, TCPP also works on providing reusable period products” such as underwear and menstrual cups by providing sustainable period workshops in collaboration with the SU and HeyGirlsUK, a local brand and producer of environmentally-friendly menstrual products. 

On the community level, TCPP teams up with local charity StreetCamps to host “both individual donation drives and community drives to compile boxes of period products, which are then distributed to the local community with our community partners like the Cambridge Housing Service (CHS), Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub, Cambridge Women’s Aid, and Cambridge City Foodbank.”

On the community level, TCPP teams up with local charity StreetCamps to host “both individual donation drives and community drives to compile boxes of period products, which are then distributed to the local community with our community partners like the Cambridge Housing Service (CHS), Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub, Cambridge Women’s Aid, and Cambridge City Foodbank.”

Just this past term, “continuing our collaboration with HeyGirls, the team linked eight local homelessness charities, foodbanks and women’s shelters with the company.”

Successful efforts have also allowed TCPP’s work to target necessary institutional changes. In June 2021, the University General Board’s Education Committee recommended that all Departments and Faculties provide free period products. On May 27th 2022, the Senior Tutors Committee recommended all Colleges provide free period products in all public bathrooms using the College bathroom spending budget.

A celebration of TCPP’s major milestone (Image credits: Instagram @thecambridgeperiodproject)

In addition, through repeated campaigning, TCPP has been able to gather a significant number of those supportive of their cause. “Some members of TCPP even published a paper (Seed et al., 2022) in the British Medical Journal calling for UK higher education institutions to devise better menstrual product provisions.”

Experience working on the campaign

Reflecting on her four years at university, Lily remarks that “being a part of the Period Project is certainly one of the things I take the most pride in. I care deeply about this project and am very glad to have worked on it persistently for three years.”

“Working with determined people has definitely helped me maintain momentum. In our group, we share a single goal and are very action-oriented and focused on achieving it. I have also worked with people like JCR Women and Marginalised Genders Officers, people at colleges, and student publications that really helped our campaign gain support and publicity.” Her experience with TCPP has shed light on “the power of a group when oriented towards the same cause.” 

How You Can Get Involved with TCPP

  • Complete a survey on whether period products are present in your department or college: fill out the survey here
  • Participate in donation drives: join the mailing list here
  • Submit a tea towel design for the TCPP Lent ‘23 Art Competition before 9th February. Send in your artwork to [email protected]
  • Follow their socials: on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @The Cambridge Period Project 

Information on TCCP’s Lent ’23 Art Competition (Image credits: Instagram @thecambridgeperiodproject)