Period poverty affects 3 in 10 women, who have to sacrifice buying sanitary products to buy food, making them vulnerable to disease through the use of alternatives like rags, socks, or even newspaper – a situation made worse by the pandemic.

In an industry as male-dominated as construction, accommodations for female on-site staff are often overlooked.

At Overbury’s Five Bank Street fit out project in London, a scheme was pitched by our design manager, Debbie Plavinskas, which aimed to significantly increase inclusiveness for women on site, whilst at the same time raising awareness for period poverty amongst all on-site staff, 90% of whom are male.

At the beginning of the project, Debbie’s first step was to make sure that there were sanitary bins in all the ladies’ bathrooms at the Bank Street construction site, along with sanitary products provided by Overbury.

Building upon this initial step, in November 2021 on-site staff were encouraged to donate pads in support of period poverty charities. The ambitious aim was to collect at least 55,350 pads for foodbanks and women’s homeless shelters by March, which is enough to help 615 women for six months.

To encourage donations, a raffle was introduced where a donation of 10 pads equalled one raffle ticket. The raffle prizes were donated by subcontractors and given out monthly; prizes included an Apple Watch, an iPad and gift vouchers, leading up to the grand prize of a TV on 21st March, Red Rebel Day.

Thanks to high participation from everyone on site, including the project management team from BNP, Hoare Lea and other external consultants, as well as their families, two large donations have already been made to food banks and women's homeless shelters. A final large donation will be sent to Ukrainians who have been displaced by conflict. With just under two weeks to go, the number of pads collected has already surpassed the goal of 55,350, and will continue to grow ahead of the Red Rebel Day deadline.

Going forward, Overbury will have sanitary bins as standard at sites and offices, with sanitary products provided where possible; a small step towards making construction a more inclusive industry to work in.

Bob Bannister, HR director at Overbury

Debbie said: “This idea came about while doing research on how to introduce the topic of periods to my daughter. While doing this research, the question of how homeless women manage their needs came up.

I decided to pitch the idea of supporting period poverty to Nick Robson, Overbury’s senior project manager. In my experience the topic of periods has always been hidden. I explained to him not only would it make a huge statement in a male-dominated industry like ours to openly support a topic like this, but it would also shine a light on a struggle affecting many women.

Nick was amazing and instantly was on board. Our entire senior management have been extremely supportive, giving their ideas on how we can make the experience even larger than my original idea.”