A GROUND-BREAKING, world first piece of legislation that will improve lives.

No decent sort wants to be the dissenting voice on that one, do they? But while Monica Lennon’s bill to ensure period products are free to anyone who needs them is praiseworthy for so many reasons, it comes with a mix of emotions.

While it's an obvious cause for celebration to see a problem solved, it gives real pause that such legislation is necessary. Not only that it is necessary, but that poverty must be dealt with in a piecemeal way.

In an age of fractured discussion and seemingly insurmountable differences, it has been heartening to watch a movement with cross-party support, especially one with such a focus on easing the burden of women.

Around 20% of women experience poverty and often are the ones to make sacrifices for their families, managing budgets in such a way as to deprive themselves in order that their children do not go without.

As the welfare state has crumbled under years of austerity and unfeeling policy choices, it has been left to third sector organisations and citizens to patch the tears in the social safety net.

Every year the figures detailing food bank use are released, every year they go in only one direction - up. Food poverty is now subdivided into specific categories.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has been, famously, doing a stellar job of work on bringing attention to holiday hunger. Of course, this is an issue long recognised and tackled at local levels, but Mr Rashford has made it headline news and, in doing so, prompted a great swell of local business and community kindness offering to help feed hungry children.

Baby banks are being set up to provide parents with formula milk to plug a gap in provision: many foodbanks won't provide it as they follow Unicef guidelines that encourage breast feeding. I wrote recently about mothers watering down formula to eke it out that little bit more, an appalling thing to hear in modern Glasgow.

From food banks have come stories of specific privations that turn into subcategories of poverty. Last week saw Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, an attempt to bring wider recognition of the choice some families make between heating and eating. Those experiencing fuel poverty are often supported by foodbanks, which will give out fuel vouchers and signpost to advice services.

Foodbanks have shone a light on other facets of need: we know about period poverty in part because of foodbanks appealing for donations of sanitary items. We know about hygiene poverty from calls for donations of shampoo and soap and those basic items - moisturiser, deodorant - that suddenly become luxuries when funds are scarce.

As a reporter, when I write about any of these issues it is the personal stories that drive people to action. The mum who ate raw baked beans from the tin in a foodbank because she was frantically hungry. The child eating thawing pizza for a school packed lunch. These stories rip at people because you can imagine your own hunger, your own child, your own body's basic needs deprived.

There are always people who will undermine the severity of poverty by pointing out how thrifty they would be if they had to be. The thing is, they have never had to be. If they had, they might be a little less smug about posting links to Boots own brand tampons, 24 for £1.10. Or sharing recipes detailing how they'd feed a family of five for a week on £2.50 and baked potatoes.

The point isn't that items can be bought cheaply - it's that if you don't have the money to pay for them then it matters none whether those items are £10 or 10p.

In the main, though, people hear of these scandals and they are driven to action. Their outrage is implicit in this action: if there was a general feeling that these things are all fine, no one would be compelled to do anything practical about it.

Most of the support networks set up to alleviate the effects of poverty ultimately aim to put themselves out of business. The Trussell Trust, say, is emphatic in aiming to eventually be redundant as food poverty is solved. Conversely, the bill solves one effect of poverty with its permanence, but along with the praise must be a repeated and robust assertion that poverty - in all of its types - should not exist.

The legislation very rightly insists that in actioning the law, local authorities ensure that women, girls and those who menstruate are provided with period products with "reasonable dignity".

Ultimately, dignity is seeing women and girls have sufficient money to buy whatever they need for themselves, and everyone else in society too.

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