In Autumn 2021 we have begun training and supporting a group of volunteer mentors (‘Transitioneers’) to deliver a menstrual health empowerment educational and experiential programme to pre-teens in two Exeter schools as part of a pilot project.
Through a course of interactive workshops and training sessions this cohort of Transitioneers will learn about the importance of menstrual education, its positive effect on many areas of a young person’s life and develop their capacity to act as mentors. Menstrual education aims to break taboos and shame by discussing cycle awareness and emotional processing, building body and emotional literacy.
We will support the volunteers as they go into schools and community groups to deliver the programme in teams of three, so that they can work in small groups of young people.
How do we know that these activities are needed?
The organisation Plan found (in a recent national survey) that 1 in 4 girls felt unprepared for the start of their periods and expressed feelings of anxiety, shock and insecurity. Through our networks we know there is still stigma surrounding menstruation. These taboos create a culture of silence, ignorance and shame impacting on mental health and wellbeing. Rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are alarmingly high (suicide rates of girls increased by 83% in the last 8 years).
Periods are something that affect the whole population, whether a person is menstruating themselves or they live, work or are friends with people that menstruate. Being educated about periods can take away stigma and stop it being a taboo subject. In an ideal world it is something that everyone understands. By working with all genders we aim to demystify the myths surrounding menstruation and create a relaxed way of relating.
What difference will this project make?
The young people we will work with in our programme will feel better educated about their bodies, menstrual cycle and emotions, improving their confidence, social connections and wellbeing, giving them skills to navigate the transition to adulthood and making them less likely to fall into negative behaviours. Our Transitioneers will also develop their own self-awareness and personal growth, while enhancing their leadership skills and improving communication to become powerful ambassadors for young people.
Who is running this project?
Hazel, is one of the directors of The Nest Southwest. She is a celebrant and women’s circle facilitator regularly holding spaces for groups, rites of passage and hosting Red Tent events that promote a positive approach to menstruation. She is passionate about menstrual cycle awareness as a life tool for well-being and self-empowerment. And feels honoured to support the major life transitions from menstruation to birth to menopause as she sees these phases as having many similar qualities that can hugely benefit from the presence of social, emotional and informational support.
Chloe, has spent the last 6 years working on menstrual health programmes around the world and promoting the use of reusable sustainable period products such as menstrual cups and washable pads. In 2017, Plan International UK, commissioned her to conduct the first national research into young people and period poverty. She’s learnt the most important thing for changing societal attitudes about periods is creating the space to be inquisitive. She’s excited to work alongside the Nest to go back to her roots, sharing her knowledge and experience with the Transitioneers.
Who are the Transitioneers?
Update: The Transitioneers have all been recruited for the 2021 pilot project. Keep an eye on our social media for updates.