MORE than a quarter of girls in Wrexham secondary schools have taken days off because they can’t afford sanitary products, according to a survey.

Around 500 pupils and school staff were recently polled by politicians in the county on the subject of period poverty.

One of the key findings was that 28 per cent of secondary age pupils who responded had missed school because they couldn’t access sanitary products.

Meanwhile, 38 per cent of year seven pupils said they’d had to miss days in primary school.

Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper, who is part of a cross-party group on Wrexham Council aiming to improve the situation, said it was a ‘serious issue’ for youngsters in the area.

She said: “The survey shows clearly that lack of access to sanitary products is impacting on school attendance and ultimately the performance of our female learners locally.

“We also heard some hearbreaking stories as part of our work, with some pupils telling us they had to use their dinner money to buy products and others having to use items of clothing because they couldn’t access adequate sanitary wear.

“I’m glad we’ve been able to put this issue on the agenda and help to raise awareness about it, with potentially hundreds of young women across Wrexham affected by this, it’s vital the discussion continues.”

The Welsh Government has made £1m available to help fund sanitary products for schools and food banks.

The group is recommending that the money should be used to install shelves in as many secondary school toilet cubicles as possible to distribute free products, with a smaller provision in primary schools.

However, a community organisation has expressed its disappointment at the councillors’ suggestions.

WINGS Wrexham was involved in a pilot project at Ysgol Clywedog on Ruthin Road, where boxes of free sanitary towels were put in a private wellbeing room and handed out by a nominated teacher.

Representatives said using shelves would not help to open up discussions on the ‘taboo’ subject.

A report set to go before members of the lifelong learning scrutiny committee states: “WINGS Wrexham expressed disappointment that there was such emphasis in the recommendations on the use of dispensing shelves.

“Moreover, to place them in toilet cubicles did nothing at all to open up conversations about periods and make the issue less of a taboo subject.

“This was something that WINGS Wrexham had endeavoured to achieve.

“Although WINGS Wrexham appreciated why responses from pupils had focused on privacy, a clear understanding of how the WINGS Wrexham scheme operates in schools may alleviate these concerns and help the pupils realise that there is privacy involved and conversations with adults are not an expectation but an adult is available to support if necessary.”

The report will be considered by committee members at a meeting on Thursday.