A HOMELESSNESS charity worker has issued a plea for donations for sanitary products after finding women were using leaves during their periods.

Student Kirstin Marshall began working with the Simon Community and decided to carry out a project on period poverty.

She was appalled to find women were too embarrassed to ask for help and so were substituting safe products for toilet paper, socks and leaves.

It prompted Kirstin to develop the Simon Community's Period Friendly Points initiative.

READ MORE: 9 ways you can help the homeless and vulnerable in Glasgow this Christmas

These are places homeless women will find safe, clean locations across the city that homeless women can easily access.

The idea came about after staff in Simon Community accommodation realised women were not talking about the issue.

Kirstin said: "It was more that people working in our premises hadn't heard enough.

"We have got Simon Community accommodation but women hadn't been asking for sanitary products but toilet paper was running out and socks were going missing.

"Homeless women don't like talking about the topic at all, it's so taboo.

READ MORE: 9 ways you can help the homeless and vulnerable in Glasgow this Christmas

"When I went in to talk to them about it they didn't want to talk, some have never had anyone to talk to.

"Some of the women I spoke to didn't have a clue how their period works so they are embarrassed."

Kirstin, who got involved with the homelessness charity as part of her marketing degree at Glasgow Caledonian University, realised there was a problem and ran a survey to see how she could help.

The 20-year-old added: "Periods are just one more thing women have to deal with on the street.

"I thought I would put out a survey and see what came back. One woman didn't know what 'sanitary' meant. Another woman said that she was using leaves.

"We discovered that more than 70 per cent of the women we surveyed didn’t know exactly how a period works and no-one had taken the time to tell them.

"Young girls who have been brought up in care might never have had anyone to talk to.

READ MORE: 9 ways you can help the homeless and vulnerable in Glasgow this Christmas

"There was a woman in her 50s who was going through menopause and had spent her whole life without proper education on how to manage her period."

Period Friendly Points provide a safe environment where women can go to without having to be asked any questions and take what they need.

The points, which were given £7000 of Big Lottery funding to launch, give towels, tampons, wipes, pants and information leaflets.

There is one in the Simon Community head quarters, one in its hub on London Road and one at its warehouse.

Shelter Scotland's Glasgow and Edinburgh offices also host them and Kirstin is looking for cafes that would be willing to support the project too.

Now she is asking for donations - in particular women's pants.

Kirstin added: "We need ladies pants size 10-12, tampons, towels and any other hygiene products. We also need wipes.

"We have people complain that wipes are bad for the environment and not very good generally but some of the women are getting changed behind a bin so in that context, a wipe is better than nothing.

"When I saw a homeless person on the street, you give them some money or a sausage roll.

"I never thought about these issues until I started working with the Simon Community."

With winter approaching the charity is also in desperate need of heavy duty gloves, high tog rated sleeping bags, hand warmers, merino wool baselayers, four season sleeping bags and high energy food.

Donations can be dropped off to the Simon Community at 472 Ballater Street or see the charity's Twitter and Facebook for more details.