What happened when I asked for ‘a package for Sandy’ at four Morrisons stores

I’ve seen many low-key programs and initiatives where customers can discreetly ask a staff member or bartender for help if they feel unsafe or need help calling hotel services. ’emergency.

But did you know there is also an initiative where menstruating people can get free sanitary pads at their local Morrison?

The ‘package for Sandy’ initiative was launched last year, following other programs such as Ask for Ani, which allows shoppers to use the codeword at Boots pharmacies if they are looking for domestic violence help, and Ask for Angela, which is used in clubs, pubs and bars for drinkers who feel unsafe on a date.

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The Package for Sandy scheme was created by Morrisons Community Champion Emma Parkinson in response to times of poverty at her local store in Bolton. After a trial, the initiative is now available in 497 stores, with the supermarket distributing an additional 125,000 sanitary products to local charities in a bid to ‘end the period of poverty’.

She said: “Menstrual poverty is a real problem and going to a school in a predominantly low-income area gave me a taste of what it’s like to not have access to hygienic clothing. It’s shocking that young girls and women go without sanitary products through no fault of their own, so I’m so glad that at Morrisons we can help support those in need across the UK.

It can be very distressing to realize that you just had your period in a public place and there would be no chance of walking out of the supermarket with a full grocery store and not forgetting a few important items because you were stressing out. idea of ​​fleeing. your jeans.

That’s without worrying about whether or not you can afford the products, especially with the rising cost of living, and whether you had factored emergency towels into your weekly budget.

So I decided to see if the Morrisons staff would help me, or if others were taken aback without a sanitary napkin, when asked for a ‘Sandy package’.

The Package for Sandy initiative has launched in Bolton and is now available in nearly 500 stores

Walking into my first Morrisons branch I felt quite nervous, as I hadn’t had my period in six years, but asking for a sanitary napkin made me feel like I was back in high school and asking for a spare room to the school receptionist. There was no one at the customer service counter, but it didn’t take long for a member of staff to walk over.

When the friendly salesman asked if he could help me, I asked, “Hi, I was wondering if you have a package for Sandy?”

“Yeah, sure,” she replied, before heading to the filing cabinet behind her to pull out a brown paper bag with the word “Sandy” written on it in marker. It was discreet and certainly nothing unusual about the package beyond the fact that my name was not Sandy, but who knows?

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The whole conversation took less time than it took for me to pull into the parking lot, and I was thrilled with the success and speed of the plan. If I had really been caught without a sanitary napkin, I would have been extremely grateful, but instead I explained that I was a journalist and wanted to know if the initiative was working, and returned the package. to someone who really needed to use it.

On my second visit to the store, customer service was manned by a member of staff who, despite asking me to repeat myself, knew exactly what I was secretly asking for and walked to the back to collect not one, but two brown packages.

One package for Sandy contains two single sanitary napkins
One package for Sandy contains two single sanitary napkins

Each package for Sandy includes two single sanitary napkins, which is enough to get you through your grocery store and home without major disaster. I thought it was very generous that the saleswoman gave me two packages addressed to Sandy. Again, I explained why I was really asking, but was really pleased to see that the system seemed to work.

I was feeling really positive by the time I headed to the third branch of Morrisons, although asking for a ‘package for Sandy’ was still a bit daunting. There was still a chance that a member of staff could look at me like I had two heads and say “no, sorry, nothing for Sandy here”. But that never happened.

This time customer service was a bit busier, but since other customers probably didn’t think twice about my code phrase, I didn’t mind asking for the package in front of them.

It was another female staff member, which was just a coincidence, who quickly pulled out a brown envelope addressed to Sandy from behind the counter. I loved that all of these interactions took less than 60 seconds, meaning anyone worried about ruining an outfit and facing potential embarrassment wouldn’t suffer long.

It wasn’t until the fourth store that I ran into a bump in the road, because when I asked the saleswoman for a package for Sandy, she nodded in thanks before rummaging through the cupboard behind her. , only to find that there were none left.

I was half disgusted that I hadn’t achieved a 100% success rate, but pleased that this was clearly a system used by members of the public and serving its purpose. I was impressed that every member of staff I asked knew about the initiative and was able to help me without shaming or degrading me.

I’m just really happy to know that, if I – or anyone else – needed a sanitary napkin, the Morrisons were there for us no questions asked.

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