IN July 2015, law student Christina Ward, 22, held a week of events aimed at raising awareness to the issues faced by Manchester’s homeless women. One year on, Ward’s week of fundraising has grown into The Monthly Gift Manchester, a campaign which encourages people to donate sanitary products to local homeless women’s shelters.

Contributions of tampons, sanitary towels and new underwear are collected in donation boxes across the city and distributed to Manchester’s homeless women by The Monthly Gift, and sister campaign Time of the Month, launched in February by 22-year-old Jodie Connor.

Debates over the last 12 months surrounding the so-called ‘tampon tax’ were the first inspiration for Ward to start the campaign.

“I was at university when one of my male friends told me that he thought girls got tampons free on the NHS,” Ward said. She chuckled at the comment but it also highlighted the fact that many women are unable to purchase these essential, but often expensive, items.

Since then, Ward’s campaign has donated huge amounts to Mustard Tree Manchester and the Booth Centre on Pimblett Street. Connor’s campaign has been successful in raising awareness throughout Manchester’s huge student population.

“It’s about opening up the discussion on something which is seen as taboo, but really is just part of life,” Connor said. The Time Of The Month campaign aims to desensitise people to talking about periods.

The girls explained why many people are shocked to hear the number of females which are affected by homelessness, and how most people’s stereotype of homeless people is “the man on the street”, as Ward described.

“Homeless women are hidden,” Connor said that many of Manchester’s homeless women turn to prostituting themselves for places to stay. “Just because they are out of sight, doesn’t mean they don’t need our help,”

As the charities continue to work towards their goal, Connor and Ward are discussing plans for further fundraising events, including a gig night with an all-female line-up.

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