Southsea mum-of-two Anna Miles, who founded the hugely successful Red Box Project in 2017, is on the Queen’s birthday honours list this year.
The Portsmouth-based scheme aimed to tackle period poverty by co-ordinating donations of tampons and sanitary towels to city schools to ensure students had free access to them.
However, the project quickly gained pace and now has around 400 subdivisions nationwide as well as branches in countries such as the USA, Poland, Japan and Bangladesh.
And in 2020 lobbying from the Red Box Project led to approval of the Period Products Scheme - where schools can use government cash to purchase products to give out for free to pupils in need.
The 36-year-old explained how it all started. ‘The idea came from a news article in the Guardian about a school in the north that had reached out to charities asking if they could have support for free period products,’ she said.
‘They were noticing some girls were missing the same weeks off school every month.
‘This was so out of my own reality, I couldn’t quite believe that was the case. I spoke to some Portsmouth schools and realised it wasn’t an isolated issue and it was happening here as well. It began with putting a call out on social media, across Facebook and Instagram and setting up co-ordinators to have their own projects.
‘We are so proud of what we have achieved but more than anything I think it shows how a community can work together. This award really isn’t just mine, it’s for everyone who’s been involved in the projects - all the coordinators and volunteers.’
Anna, who has worked as a specialist teacher in dyslexia and literacy at Mayville High School in Southsea for 10 years, said she would continue to fight for period equality around the world.
‘I think it’s really a part of everything I believe in in terms of access to education and equality.
‘We are not the answer. We never wanted to be the solution but we wanted to help where we could and open up a conversation about the issue.’
The scheme was co-founded by 25-year-old Clegg Bamber who was studying as a geography student at the University of Portsmouth when he became involved.
Clegg, who now lives in Swindon, is also set to receive an MBE as part of the honours.
He added: ‘I am incredibly proud of the project as a whole and what it has achieved. Over 600 volunteers are involved and without them we would not have secured the Period Products Scheme.’