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Hilton Metropole, Birmingham


This year’s finalists: Scotland Excel, Scottish Government and Hey Girls

In the run-up to the GO Awards Scotland, taking place on 29th October at the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow, we’ll be profiling some of our finalists to celebrate the diversity and strength of the entries to this year’s Awards.

Here, we hear from Julie Welsh, Director at Scotland Excel, about the entry from Scotland Excel, Scottish Government and Hey Girls in the ‘Team of Year Award’ category.

  • Can you summarise the aims and scope of the project and how it took shape?

The project was conceived to support the Scottish Government’s initial £5.2m commitment to providing period dignity to people in education in Scotland. The Scottish Government thoroughly researched the issues including identifying the potential need for free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities, and turned to Scotland Excel to find the most expedient and cost-effective product supply mechanism.

Scotland Excel identified that there was an opportunity to add an extra lot to its Washroom Solutions framework and mobilised to engage with suppliers. Hey Girls, an East Lothian-based social enterprise, responded to the call for the provision of sanitary products through Lot 2 and were awarded the contract – along with three others – in October 2018. The vast majority of spend on the framework was with Hey Girls and their innovative approach to ending period poverty.

  • What were some of the major challenges involved in the project, and how were these overcome?

The biggest challenge was time – there was a 13-month timeframe. The Scottish Government made a commitment to introduce free sanitary products in educational establishments in the 2017/18 Programme for Government. The Scottish Government approached Scotland Excel, which involved its Washroom Solutions User Intelligence Group to create a second lot and then went out to market – all within a couple of months. Other challenges included being mindful of the sensitivity around this subject – especially around dispensing mechanisms, which were designed to avoid any embarrassment that users might feel in openly accessing free supplies.

  • What motivated you to enter this project for the ‘Team of the Year’ Award?

The scope of the project and the sheer will to make it happen prompted us to enter the Team category. The three different elements of this team were not under one roof, but instead had to use their individual strengths to deliver a workable, expedient response to ministerial ambitions. The collaboration was forged around a commitment to support equality, dignity and rights for those who menstruate and to ensure that lack of access to products does not impact on an individual’s ability to fully participate in education.

  • What would winning a GO Award mean to you?

It would mean the world to all of us to have our work on this recognised, but also to raise awareness of this important issue.