FREE sanitary products will be available in schools, GP surgeries and community centres across East Lothian as the council launches its Free Period campaign.

About 35 different places across the county have signed up to provide the free items to all, with advice about how to allow people to access them easily circulated.

East Lothian Council is working with local social enterprise Hey Girls to provide free high-quality sanitary towels and tampons.

Hey Girls was established by founder Celia Hodson at her home in Stenton in January last year.

It produces plastic-free biodegradable products with a buy-one give-one philosophy, which sees a free pack given out to those in need every time a customer buys one.

Hey Girls recently moved into offices in Musselburgh and has taken on an additional three members of staff who are mums and work during school hours in their packaging department.

Their products are being provided to the council at a reduced rate, alongside educational material and starter packs for primary schools.

The project has been made possible thanks to £68,000 funding from the Scottish Government and is part of the council’s commitment to addressing poverty and inequalities across East Lothian.

Research suggests that one in 10 girls in the UK cannot afford to buy sanitary items, with the number rising to as many as one in five who are living in poverty in Scotland.

Posters and stickers encouraging people to ‘take what you need’ will be put up in places where the items are available and an online map is available at the council’s website.

Celia said she was delighted that Hey Girls was working with East Lothian Council to support the project.

She said: “Being an East Lothian resident, I am thrilled we are able to provide our products here.

“The world is a very unfair place but it is how we deal with it that matters.

“One in five girls in Scotland is struggling with period poverty.

“When people buy one of our beautiful products, the exact same high-quality product is donated to somebody else.”

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell, cabinet spokesperson for health and social care, said the campaign aimed to make sure everyone had access to the products after research revealed that some women and girls missed school or work because they could not afford them.

She said: “These are essential items for health, hygiene and personal comfort but sadly we know that, for some in our area, the cost is too much to bear. We’re pleased we are working with organisations including Hey Girls to tackle this issue and to make tampons and towels available for free .It’s important that anyone who needs sanitary products is able to find a supply near them where they can help themselves to what they need.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, council spokesperson for education and children’s services, said the move would carry on the work started in schools with the Red Box Project, which offered free products in secondary schools.