The leader of a project helping young girls stay in education has been nominated for the Watford Observer Community Heroes award. 

Sian Henry, local coordinator for The Red Box Project in Watford was put forward for the award by Stephen Russell, director of Watford Homeless Warriors. 

Stephen said: “Sian is worthy of being nominated. She has relentlessly worked hard in promoting awareness of period poverty getting so many people and schools and businesses involved.”

Sian, who is 49 and lives in west Watford, decided to get involved with the “community interest project” after reading about the impact on young girls missing out on school because they did not have access to basic sanitary items. 

The Red Box Project provide collection points in schools and other public places where young girls can receive the products. They rely entirely on donations. 

Sian Henry

Watford Observer:

Sian said: “My main interest is looking at barriers to people from disadvantaged backgrounds getting into education. 

“That led me to look at ‘period and hygiene poverty’. I studied the data and found the project which targets girls in education. 

“It makes sense to me if something as simple as that is stopping our girls getting the education they need to get started in life then let’s do something about it here in Watford. 

“I contacted Red Box HQ and said, ‘let’s do it’.” 

Sian, who is originally from Wales, qualified as a social worker in 1993 and spent most of her career working across London. She is also a school governor at Queens' School in Bushey and Field Junior School in Watford. 

She said: “I got into social work because what I found most interesting was the safeguarding and protection of adults and children.

“I’ve also worked with refugees and alcoholics over the years. I like helping people and that’s why I did this degree.”

Sian said she currently has seven other volunteers who help with her Red Box project, adding: “We also have really good partners such as the police, Watford Community Housing, Watford Women’s Centre and Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors in Three Rivers and Watford.

“People have really embraced this project and I am so passionate about it. People really want to help us and without their donations we couldn’t work. I am just overwhelmed by how generous people are.”

Speaking about her aspirations for The Red Box Project in Watford, Sian said: “I want a box in every school in the area getting products to these girls and I want to create more of a discussion about periods generally.

“These girls should be able to use and buy sizes that suit them, and we aim to have a range that fit the girls properly.”