Support for women through that ‘tricky period’

Homeless women and females on low incomes will benefit from a new service set up to provide free sanitary products at Norwich’s main libraries.

The Tricky Period project involves the libraries taking donations of products and handing them out to people who cannot afford them, with no questions asked about proof of eligibility.

Staff at Tuckswood, Earlham, West Earlham, Mile Cross, Plumstead Road, St Williams Way and The Millennium libraries have been taking in donations of tampons, sanitary towels and carrier bags for the last few weeks ready to start the scheme on Thursday, September 28.

Community librarian Caroline Varney-Bowers is behind the project. She said: “I became aware of a project called The Homeless Period where homeless women struggle to afford these items and did some further research about period poverty. I found this is also an issue for young women from low income families and sometimes leads to girls missing school during their period.

“Library staff have been hugely supportive of starting up this service and we have already had some donations.”

Order forms will be available in Norwich Libraries at the staff desk (at The Millennium Library this will be the ground floor joining desk). Customers can tick the products they require and hand in their form at the desk and receive the items they need.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, said: “It’s fantastic that our library staff have set up this service which will help vulnerable women and girls in Norwich. As well as the problem of affordability, this could potentially improve women’s health, as there are risks associated with not changing sanitary products regularly. The Tricky Period may also help to reduce period related truancy from school or time off work. I would encourage library users to support the project by making donations of supplies.”

Norwich foodbank is supporting the project as they are acutely aware that many who access their services find it very difficult to ask for these items.

Norfolk County Council’s Library and Information Service works closely with the council’s Public Health team on the Healthy Libraries project to improve awareness, information and support around health and wellbeing to people living in Norfolk.

This also includes supporting and promoting public health campaigns around issues including dementia awareness and reducing childhood obesity. Libraries work with local and national organisations to host events which encourage people to improve their health and wellbeing.
The service is available during library opening hours.

Just Regional is keen to support this initiative and we have offered to our offices as a point for anyone who would like to donate sanitary products. Just drop your donations off to our HQ in Penfold Street, Aylsham, NR11 6ET and we will make sure they get to the libraries in Norwich.

Editor Gay Webster said: “This is something which most women take for granted, that they have access to sanitary pads and tampons. It’s only right that all women have that choice and we are happy to be part of this worthwhile scheme.”

Pupils help the homeless and hungry

Youngsters at Hellesdon High School have been out and about helping to feed the homeless and to raise awareness of their problems.

Pupils and staff all contributed with donations after seeing a video made by the Shield (Supporting Hellesdon’s Inclusion, Equality, Love and Diversity) team to let the rest of the school know about the work of The People’s Picnic.

This is a group of volunteers who prepare and distribute hot meals and other supplies to homeless people in the city centre and who are seeing an increase in the number of people desperate for their help.

Donations included items such as tins of pasta and meat, biscuits, powdered milk, wet wipes and nappies and a group of sixth formers went along to deliver the supplies and to see how they were distributed.

English teacher Jess Baker said: “When we’d researched homelessness in Norwich prior to our trip, we’d been shocked by the high numbers of people who use this food bank for both hot meals and supplies, but nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered.

“There was a huge crowd of people when we arrived at 8pm.”

Younger pupils also played their part, making sandwiches to hand out – and they threw themselves enthusiastically into the challenge.

The students who accompanied Miss Baker to deliver the sandwiches and donations helped to distribute bottles of water, which gave them the opportunity to meet those in the queue.

The sandwiches, in particular, proved popular and were gone in 10 minutes.

After their experience, the sixth formers praised the volunteers who organise the service twice a week.

Georgia Leeds said: “I spoke to one man who told me the food we supplied will go far. I found that really touching.”

Scott Palframan expressed surprise at how many people there were using the facilities. “I was shocked at how busy it was… It shows you what a great need there is in Norwich,” he said.

Miss Baker added: “It was profoundly moving to see so many people of all different ages and walks of life coming together and using this service. The People’s Picnic organisers are absolute heroes.”

Hellesdon High School intends to continue to support the vulnerable through further fundraising campaigns and donations.

Sleepout success for Norfolk homeless charity

On Friday, November 11, more than 100 people gathered in a Norwich car park to spend the night outside, raising money to help the homeless. Just Regional editor GAY WEBSTER (pictured below) joined those on the Norwich Sleep Out 2016 for the Benjamin Foundation.

Yes it was cold, but the atmosphere was warm as were all the people getting together to spend the night sleeping out for such a good cause.

They all had the same aim, to get through the night while raising as much money as they could to support homeless young people in Norwich and now Suffolk too.

Ok, it is only a tiny bit of what actual homeless people have to go through on a nightly basis. We were lucky that it didn’t rain, we had tea and coffee, we had food, we had the use of toilets at the Marsh Norwich HQ in whose car park we were sleeping. We had mobile phones and we also had homes to go back to when the event finished at 7am.

But that wasn’t really the point. The point was undergoing a bit of hardship for a night, but much more importantly raising awareness and money to help those who are affected by homelessness for whatever reason.

Chris Elliott, marketing and fundraising manager, said: “The challenge of spending a night sleeping outside gives an insight into the issue of homelessness and money is raised through sponsorship.

“We are delighted with the success of our Sleep Out 2016. More than 100 people took part each raising money to help The Benjamin Foundation and our work in Norfolk and Suffolk with homeless young adults. The event has also helped draw attention to this issue which is important. We’d like to thank everyone who took part, supported it and all who’ve donated.”

So far the event has raised more than £20,000 but donations are still coming in.

Those taking part, including networking groups and businesses as well as individuals, headed to Marsh on Queens Road from 7pm with their cardboard and thermals.

JB Postle in North Walsham supplied my packaging. Ironically one box had contained a fire surround. I like to think it helped keep me warm.

It was the second Sleep Out, which is part of the End Youth Homelessness Campaign supported by a network of UK regional charities. All money raised from the event and separate Do Your Own Sleep Out events will go directly to The Benjamin Foundation, which helps thousands of local people each year.

The community feel carried on right thought the night and some of us actually did get some sleep. Organisers were on hand all night to make sure everyone was OK and there was a visit from the SOS Bus team to check up too.

Many took to social media to boost their fundraising and let friends and family know what they were up to. It certainly helped boost sponsorship and raise awareness of the cause.

The work the Benjamin Foundation does to help young people is well worth supporting, with a short film on the night showing just how much they do and how many they have supported.

Many people will still have Virgin Money Giving pages still open for donations. Just go to and put in the name of the person you wish to sponsor. And if you’d like to donate to mine see the link here

For more information about The Benjamin Foundation, visit

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Sleep Out to help homeless people

The Benjamin Foundation is calling on people to get involved with their biggest fundraising event of the year – Norwich Sleep Out 2016.

The challenge of spending a night sleeping outside gives an insight into the issue homelessness and money is raised through sponsorship.

Building on last year’s success where 70 people took part, the target this year is for 150 people to get involved.  The main event will take place at Marsh on Queens Road in Norwich on Friday, November 11, from 7pm until 7am the next day.  Additionally, for the first time, people are also invited to organise their own, separate, Do Your Own Sleep Out, which can take place any time during November.

Norwich Sleep Out, now in its second year, is part of the End Youth Homelessness Campaign which is supported by a network of UK regional charities.  More than £17,000 was raised for The Benjamin Foundation thanks to Sleep Out last year, all of which has been used locally by the charity.

Chris Elliott, marketing and fundraising manager at The Benjamin Foundation, said: “As well as our main event, this year we’re excited to give people the chance to take part in a new way.  Do Your Own Sleep Out is a really flexible way for anyone to be involved, including children. Families might want do this in their garden, schools could plan a Sleep Out in the school hall or playground; clubs like Brownies or Scouts could perhaps dedicate a camp night as a Do Your Own Sleep Out.  It’s up to each individual group, as to where and when they’d like to do it.  There are lots of possibilities.”

Find out all the details at  The Twitter hashtag for the night is #TBFSleepOut and people can share photos from their event on Facebook ‘The Benjamin Foundation’, Twitter @CharityTBF and email them to


All money raised will go to The Benjamin Foundation, which helps thousands of local people each year.  The charity delivers services in Norfolk and more recently into Suffolk, providing services that give people hope, stability, opportunity and independence.  To take part in the main event, there is a £25 registration fee and at least a further £100 needs to be raised via sponsorship.

For more information and to register for Norwich Sleep Out, visit or contact Chris Elliott on or 01603 886 933.

Just regional editor Gay Webster will be wrapping up warm to take part on November 11. She said: “It’s a small way of finding out what some people have to go through every night and a chance to raise some money for a great cause. If you want to give me a few quid to help, you can find me here.”

 Chris Elliott, DonnaTomlinson & Joanna Storey at last year's event

Chris Elliott, Donna Tomlin & Joanna Storey all ready for this year’s event.

Tesco pitches in with food to help charities

Every day food goes to waste as supermarkets close up at the end of a working day.

But Tesco is Aylsham is planning to put its leftovers to good use with a new scheme open to charities.

Each day, charities will be given the chance to come and take the short date produce to distribute as they wish.

In charge of the Aylsham Tesco project are Kay Harwood and Dawn Bence and they are keen for charities and good causes to get in touch with the store.

“We hoping to create a really good partnership with the community to help,” said Kay. “Our Community Food Connection is a way we can help out and stop more waste going into landfill.”

Each evening at 7pm, the duty manager at the store will pack the food into boxes and contact a charity, a different one each day, to come and collect.

The scheme is also being run in other Tesco branches.

It’s just one of several ways the store is hoping to give something back to the community.

The Aylsham branch is also planning to organise regular cream teas for older people, the first of which was on July 20.

Staff are also keen to get involved in the town’s community garden and will be offering help to the community through volunteers doing odd jobs.

Anyone interested in finding out more about any of the above can contact Dawn on 07718 522476 or contact the store and ask for the duty manager on 01215 197165.


Pictured are Kay and Dawn. Picture by Molly Foss