Flow Free: Brent becomes first London borough to introduce vending machines with free period products across public buildings

22 October 2021

Vending machines providing free period products have been installed in six public buildings by Brent Council in a trailblazing new scheme to tackle period poverty.

Research from Plan International UK revealed the true extent of period poverty in lockdown, as 3 in 10 girls struggled to afford or access sanitary wear. Shockingly, over half (54%) of these girls used toilet paper as an alternative to period products.

This is a London-wide issue. However, Brent Council is taking the lead by becoming the first London borough to install Flow Free vending machines stocked with free pads and tampons in toilets across the borough. This offers those facing period poverty a discreet route for getting the products they desperately need.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, responsible for Housing and Welfare Reform, said, “It is absolutely right that everyone has access to the essentials of daily life. That should include period products.

“I know people can often feel embarrassed to ask for help. That’s why we made sure these Flow Free machines are installed in toilets, to give people privacy and encourage them to take advantage of this scheme.

“By making these products freely available, we are fulfilling our commitment to creating a fairer and more equal Brent by reducing period poverty. I hope other London boroughs will follow in our lead.”

The Flow Free machines can be found in toilets in the following public buildings as part of a 12-month pilot initially:

  • Brent Civic Centre
  • Ealing Road Library
  • Harlesden Library
  • Kilburn Library
  • The Library at Willesden Green
  • Kingsbury Library