Imperial College London

School of Medicine and medics' Student Union launch period dignity scheme


Free period items placed in a bathroom at the Charing Cross campus

Some of the free period items now available in toilets at the Charing Cross campus

The Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) and School of Medicine Students’ Union (ICSMSU) Welfare teams recently unveiled the scheme.

Anyone in need of period items can now take what they need free of charge from the boxes, which are placed in female and unisex toilets in the Reynolds and Glenister Buildings after the successful launch at the Charing Cross campus. 

The scheme aims to ensure that no student affected by period poverty goes without. Supplies include a variety of tampons and sanitary towels. 

Collaborative effort 

Conversations began in earnest between the two Welfare teams in May of 2021, when COVID-19 restrictions began to ease and increased footfall on campus was expected. 

With many students prevented from finding additional employment through the previous year, the teams’ mission was to ensure anyone in financial difficulty at least need not worry about being able to access the period supplies they needed. 

“It’s been amazing to work closely with the Student Union’s Welfare team on this. It was something that both staff and students felt really strongly about and to see it come to fruition is brilliant – we are looking forward to seeing it benefit more and more students as they return to term time in the coming weeks”, said Fran Bertolini, Head of Student Services in Medicine’s Faculty Education Office, who leads the Welfare team for the School of Medicine. 

ICSMSU Welfare Chair 2020-21, medical student Natania Varshney, said, “This is something that we had been thinking about for a long time within the ICSMSU Welfare Team, and how we could make it sustainable for years to come.  

“The FEO Welfare team have been incredibly supportive with this project, ensuring that the funding is secured so no ICSM student needs to go through their time at medical school with the worry of facing period poverty. This is a huge achievement for the School of Medicine and we look forward to seeing its progress over the years to come!” 

Free period items below a poster with a QR code allowing users to notify the teams when supplies are low
Posters are positioned around each supply box. These feature a QR code which, when scanned, alerts the Welfare teams that the box needs replenishing, ensuring that supplies will always be available to those that need them.

Shared ethos 

The organic, plastic-free and cruelty-free products are provided by TOTM, a company whose driving force is that “everyone should have access to period care”. 

“The TOTM ethos aligned strongly with ours in the School of Medicine, so it’s brilliant that we’ve been able to secure their support and products for this project,” said Fran. “It was important to us that the company we worked with on this shared our aims, which made TOTM the perfect choice.” 

TOTM’s other goals include increasing transparency and decreasing shame around discussions of periods, encouraging wide access education about menstrual wellbeing, and ensuring that “period care can do good and be better for the planet.” 

While anyone who needs period items is able to access the supplies at the Charing Cross campus as required, TOTM also offer an ongoing student discount.  

As part of this collaboration, TOTM have also provided a discount code for staff who may wish to purchase the products. Any interested staff should get in touch with Fran Bertolini who will provide the code. 


Dorrit Pollard-Davey

Dorrit Pollard-Davey
Faculty of Medicine Centre


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