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class=”pg-headline”>She had no sanitary pads. No one knew and no one helped

But recent surveys in the UK have exposed startling rates of period poverty in one of the world’s richest countries and sparked a national conversation.

With a contraceptive implant that made her bleed at least 25 days out of every 28, the problem was particularly acute for Krengel.

Related: Calculate how period poverty would impact you

Krengel rationed her menstrual products, wearing a single sanitary pad for up to 20 hours (instead of the recommended three or four), inserting a contraceptive diaphragm to catch the blood or simply free bleeding (using nothing at all).

Throwing away her old jeans later, she noticed that “all of them had this red stain running down the seam, because I would just be free bleeding at least two or three days every week.”

Like countless girls and women around the world who miss days of school or work every month because they can’t access the products they need, Krengel found herself spending more time at home, worried about going out.

Menstrual products and other toiletries in Krengel’s bathroom. Photo: Sarah Tilotta for CNN

‘The first thing under the bus’

At the time, Krengel, her partner and their two daughters — one of whom was just a few months old — were living in Norwich, a small city 100 miles northeast of London.

Switching between two different types of welfare, the family’s housing benefit was paused and they were told to reapply. But there was a months-long backlog: “We were left without any money to pay rent for a very long time,” Krengel recalls.

They turned to high-interest online payday loans no credit check loans and friends and family to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

When they had no money for food, Krengel’s brother-in-law did an online payday loans no credit check grocery shop. When her two-year-old daughter had no winter coat, Krengel’s sister went out and bought one.

But when she had no menstrual products, no one knew and so no one helped.

“Any time someone was offering to help us financially, I would say, ‘go buy something for the kids.'”

And it was often a choice between spending £1 ($1.30) on a packet of sanitary pads or putting food on the table, she says.

“You can make dinner for four people for £1,” she says. “That seemed so much more important than something that was only for me.”

Menstrual products are “the first thing that goes under the bus when you’re poor.”

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Ten percent of girls and women aged between 14 and 21 surveyed in 2017 by children’s charity Plan International UK said they had experienced being unable to afford sanitary products. Four in ten said they had used toilet paper because they had struggled to afford sanitary wear.

The research was triggered by media reports last March that some schoolgirls in Leeds, a city in northern England, were missing up to a week of school every month because they could not afford menstrual products. Others were regularly using tissue paper or socks instead of pads or tampons.

“We know of a few hundred cases (of girls unable to afford menstrual products),” says Sharon White, head of the UK’s School and Public Health Nurses Association. “But that’s the tip of the iceberg.”

And it’s a problem that can impact women of any age. Many UK food banks now offer non-food items such as menstrual products and the demand for them is growing significantly, explains Alison Inglis-Jones, trustee and volunteer at the Trussell Trust, which runs more than 420 food banks across the country.

A protest in London last December called for an end to period poverty in the UK. Photo: Judith Vonberg for CNN

“I’ve seen people coming in using newspaper, tissues or socks,” she says. “One woman was taking paper out of a public library and using that.”

“If you can’t afford food you can’t afford sanitary protection,” says Tina Leslie from Freedom4Girls, the charity that first flagged the issue among UK schoolgirls last year. “The problem is the same here as it is in Kenya.”

And poverty is on the rise in many more developed countries, partly due to a decade of spending cuts.

Current trends show that the long-term policy of austerity in the UK, largely implemented by Conservative-led governments of the last eight years, has impacted women more significantly than men — and women of menstruating age most of all.

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, many of them are mothers claiming child benefit and other forms of family welfare and therefore account for a big proportion of welfare payments — that means they are hardest hit when payouts are cut.

But for many girls and women globally, financial poverty is compounded by the stigma around menstruation that leads women to “hand off tampons to each other like we’re doing a drug deal,” as Krengel puts it.

“Two massively stigmatized experiences — menstruation and poverty — intersect to create this bizarre and horrible form of poverty,” she says.

She, like many others, believes both must be addressed simultaneously to have any long-lasting impact.

Tackling the taboo

Since Plan International released their UK study, long-running campaigns tackling the issue have been picking up more interest than ever before — and new ones have sprung up too.

A protest in central London last December was a watershed moment for those campaigns, marking the first time the issue hit mainstream headlines in the UK.

The rally outside Downing Street, the official residence of Prime Minister Theresa May, attracted celebrities including British models Daisy Lowe and Adwoa Aboah and hundreds of demonstrators, some sporting tampon jewelry and vagina-related paraphernalia.

Hundreds turned out in London last December to protest against period poverty. Photo: Judith Vonberg for CNN

Related: It’s time for women and girls to speak about their periods

Many protesters told CNN they were shocked to learn that period poverty was a UK problem.

“It’s disgraceful that our society’s even having this problem and disgraceful that we should feel ashamed for talking about it,” 18-year-old Suzie Murray said at the rally.

Chella Quint, who runs a campaign called Period Positive, encouraging shame-free conversations about menstruation, has only recently freed herself from that psychological trap.

“There were times when I couldn’t financially afford menstrual products and that was worrying, and there were other times when I couldn’t socially and culturally afford it, because I was afraid to say anything,” she says.

Not having loads of toys as a child “didn’t harm me forever I don’t think,” Quint explains. “But the embodied shame around feeling negative about periods — that definitely has.”

Rachel Krengel makes a similar point. “I think there’s a part of every menstruator on this planet who is still a 12-year-old who’s just spotted blood on their crotch and is so desperately ashamed of that.”

Demonstrators at the December protest in London. Photo: Judith Vonberg for CNN

‘It’s so easy to fix’

With so much attention currently focused on women’s issues and gender inequality, Krengel believes now is the time to push for change.

She wants to see free provision of menstrual products in all UK schools. By her calculation it would cost £11 ($14) per child per year.

“It’s so easy to fix,” she says. “It’s a nothing amount of money.”

A petition started by Krengel and other members of the London-based feminist activist group Fourth Wave is calling on British Prime Minister Theresa May to introduce free menstrual products in all UK schools. It has gathered more than 135,000 signatures to date.

Scotland is set to do just that. In August, the Scottish government set aside £5.2 million ($6.8 million) to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities across the country.

Wales has also set aside £1 million ($1.3 million) for a similar project.

Related: When pads are a luxury, getting your period means missing out on life

The UK’s Labour Party — the largest opposition party — has pledged to spend £10 million ($13 million) to provide free sanitary products in secondary schools, homeless shelters and food banks. Smaller parties, including the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Women’s Equality Party, have made similar pledges.

In a debate in the House of Commons in June, Minister for Women Victoria Atkins said there was “no significant evidence” that period poverty was having an impact on school attendance.

“For (the government) to do something about it now would mean an acknowledgement that child poverty has soared over the last seven years,” Krengel says. “It would be an admission of what austerity has done to our society.”

Krengel with her daughters, Kitty, 9, (left) and Millie, 8. Photo: Sarah Tilotta for CNN

Along with free provision of pads or tampons, campaigners are calling for better education about periods in schools.

Krengel says that if these national conversations had been happening when she was struggling with period poverty in secret, it might have helped. She hopes people like her are feeling “a bit less alone now.”

Krengel, who no longer experiences period poverty herself, says that if these national conversations had been happening when she was struggling in secret, it might have helped. She hopes people like her are feeling “a bit less alone now.”

But while “not feeling alone is great, it has limited usefulness,” she says. “What we need is some actual change. We need some action.”

Clarification: This story has been updated to better reflect that activist Rachel Krengel no longer experiences period poverty herself and has organized a petition calling for free menstrual products in all UK schools.

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Amigo sold me loans while I was £40,000 in debt, it destroyed my life

A business owner who was sold more than £20,000 in unaffordable loans by disgraced online payday loans no credit check lender Amigo while he was already £40,000 in debt has told how the firm ‘destroyed my life’. 

John Mackenzie, 49, from County Antrim, Norther Ireland, took out loans worth £24,000 from Amigo starting in 2016.

He told MailOnline he has been fighting with Amigo and the Financial Conduct Authority for years over the affordability of his debts. 

‘All I want is my money back so I can settle my debts and sort out my life,’ businessman Mr Mackenzie said.

‘If my claim had been dealt with at the time I first submitted it, my money would have been paid back with interest. Now Amigo is in administration, they’re sitting on that money and I can’t afford to live.’ 

Mr Mackenzie is among tens of thousands of customers of guarantor lending firm Amigo Loans who has still not received a penny of their money back – up to 18 years after first being missold unaffordable online payday loans no credit check.

John Mackenzie, 49, from County Antrim, Norther Ireland, took out loans worth £24,000 from Amigo starting in 2016

Amigo founder and former CEO James Benamor has become a billionaire thanks to the initial success of his business

Amigo was permanently banned from lending in May 2022 by the Financial Conduct Authority and was ordered to repay interest taken from customers sold ‘unaffordable’ loans from as early as 2005.

Amigo lent at high interest rates to people with a poor credit score if they had a friend or family member willing to make repayments if they could not. 

But after the company was inundated with complaints for selling unaffordable loans, it collapsed – depriving tens of thousands of customers of fair compensation.

Meanwhile Amigo’s CEO James Benamor – who once described his younger self as a drug-taking petty criminal – became exceedingly wealthy, cashing in £305million of shares after his company was first floated on the stock market. He resigned from the company’s board in 2020.

Previously pictured with some of the world’s most famous businessmen such as Richard Branson, Benamor even appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, before by 2018 his wealth had increased to the point that he was officially classed as a billionaire.

His wealth fuels an ultra-glamorous existence that has, in recent years, been chronicled via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts showcasing endless exotic holidays and extravagant family outings. 

Away from the founder’s jet-set lifestyle, Amigo previously calculated that customer complaints could cost it around £338million – but now it has gone into administration, customers are in line to receive as little as 17 percent of the cash they are entitled to. 

The company faced a slow downward spiral after being forced to stop lending in 2020, then again in 2022 after a brief return to the market.

Amigo was permanently banned from offering new loans in May 2022 by the Financial Conduct Authority after it was found to have missold deals to tens of thousands of customers

James Benamor has previously been pictured with some of the world’s most successful businessmen, including Richard Branson (right)

Benamor’s customers still have no idea when they will receive any compensation

Financial authorities had realised it had been handing out loans to almost anyone, with only the barest consideration given to whether borrowers or their guarantors could afford them.

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Inside the secretive world of luxury pawnbrokers

If you walked past Suttons and Robertsons’ South Kensington branch, it’s unlikely you’d think there were luxury goods worth thousands of pounds locked inside.

In fact, its fluorescent lights and carpet are more akin to a high street bank than a luxury pawnbroker, where you can only enter by appointment.

But, in recent times, it has loaned £47,000 on a piece of Banksy art after a customer was landed a surprise tax bill – and £315,000 on a collection of high-end watches in order to fund a hospitality business buy.

Suttons and Robertsons has been a luxury pawnbroker since the 18th century 

The origins of pawnbroking can be traced back thousands of years and it is one of the oldest forms of lending in the world. 

Now, it is having somewhat of a resurgence after the pandemic flipped the industry on its head.

As more people struggle to access finance they are turning to pawnbroking, but what of the more secretive luxury market?

It has been pushed – or dragged, depending on who you ask – into the 21st century.

For Suttons and Robertsons, which has served its customers in one form or another since 1770, the change is welcome.

We spent a day at the premises with managing director Jim Tannahill to discuss how and why the demand for luxury pawnbroking has grown.

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Demand for pawnbroking grows
In some areas, pawnbrokers can be quite visible but the numbers of actual shops actually remain relatively low.

That said the largest pawnbroker in the UK, H&T Group which has 270+ stores in the UK, reported ‘record levels’ of demand last summer.

Its pledge book – the loans against customer assets – rose from £85.1million to £114.6million over the year.

Suttons and Robertsons had a similar increase in business with its loan book up between 20 and 30 per cent year-on-year. It has also seen the number of first-time customers climb by 30 per cent since this time last year.

Suttons and Robertsons’ managing director Jim Tannahill has been a pawnbroker for 40+ years

‘We do get a good suite of new customers, but like the rest of the industry we are reliant on the fact that once people have been using our service they do repeat,’ says Tannahill.

‘Probably 50 per cent of anyone’s book will be repeat clients and then you top that up with new clients. Some just borrow once.’

Tannahill started his career at TM Sutton and worked there for a number of years before starting out on his own. 

In 2019, Hopkins and Jones acquired all of the trading assets from Suttons and Robertsons, which was owned by The Money Shop, and he is now one of the shareholders.

‘I’m still seeing some of the same faces that I used to see before I left, which was about 10 years ago. I think if that’s still happening your service must be of use to people.’

The lack of access to loans, especially since the collapse of online payday loans no credit check lenders, means it still serves a purpose, he argues.

‘If you want a mid-thousands pound loan, its difficult. Getting mainstream quick access to that sort of finance is increasingly difficult. The anti-money laundering side of things is a bit more long-winded, but if you wanted £10,000 from a bank it’s just not happening in a day.

‘If you’re looking to borrow money over a short period of time, [pawnbroking] is a viable and quick option.’

How does luxury pawnbroking work?
Unlike non-luxury pawnbrokers, Suttons and Robertsons offers loans secured against luxury items, such as watches and jewellery.

It can also buy items but the vast majority of its business is in online payday loans no credit check, and it is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The asset is valued and an offer will be made, at which point the customer enters into a pawnbroking loan agreement. Pawnbrokers will work on cash value and will lend a percentage of that, usually between 75 and 80 per cent.

Suttons and Robertsons will hold the asset in one of its secured vaults until the agreed period of time – usually six months – is over, although you can return at any time within this time.

Once the full loan amount and accrued interest is paid, the item will be returned to the customer.

Not everyone can walk in and get a pawnbroking loan though. At Suttons and Robertsons, the minimum loan is £500 – higher than the £400 average loan paid out by other pawnbrokers – while the average loan size is £6,000.

Tannahill says he has loaned up to half a million pounds, and the average loan size is rising in part because of prices going up in general.

Popular pawned products include fine jewellery from leading brands like Tiffany & Co 

‘What was a couple of thousands of pounds a few years ago is double that now… just by the very nature of the product.’

Pawnbrokers will also carry out rudimentary checks and in the luxury world, proof of purchase and/or insurance valuations on the item, which helps establish a tie between the customer and the item.

‘Some customers push back against these things because they think we’re prying. I’d much rather we didn’t have to, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Times have changed.’

Knock-off items might be getting better and better but information is easy to get which means most people will have ID, he says.

There are lots of fakes out there… you really are up against it with some of them. 

While the internet has meant a proliferation of the black market and fakes market, it has also helped the pawnbrokers themselves.

‘There’s a lot of information on the internet. You can look up watches, serial numbers, the brands and auctions. You can get a feel for what something might be selling on the secondhand market.’

But improved fakes means it is hard to ignore which makes the process more frustrating.

‘You still took look, touch, feel and do your own due diligence – especially with watches. There are lots and lots of fakes out there and we see them all the time.

‘A lot of them are rubbish which is good for us. Once you’ve seen the real product you notice the quality difference. But some of them are very good… you really are up against it with some of them.

‘For every Cartier Love bangle I see, there’ll be three or four that are fake to a relatively good standard. They’ll be gold, they’ll have the marks, but they won’t be from Cartier. It’s a real headache.’

The secondhand watch market has exploded in recent years but it also means a lot of fakes have flooded the market

What do people take to luxury pawnbrokers?
Over four decades, Tannahill has been up close and personal with a lot of expensive items, but it’s the most rare that he enthuses over the most.

‘I’ve seen lots of Victorian items which probably aren’t worth much but are rare. I remember seeing a surgeons kit with a saw for taking off a log. It was mounted in gold and bone-handed.’

The most pawned items in 2023 are less ghoulish: gold, watches and branded jewellery are all split fairly evenly. Watches have particularly taken off because of the secondhand market, and prove particularly popular in Suttons and Robertsons’ City branch.

The pawnbroker operates across four outlets in London, each one catering for the area in which they’re situated.

‘They’re all very different. The City will be more watches, South Kensington more jewellery. Our Edgware Road location happens to have lower average online payday loans no credit check, although higher than the industry, and that’s a little more unusual jewellery and gold based.

Quite a lot of people have the perception that an item will increase in price. It might do over a period of time. It’s certainly not instantaneous.

‘Victoria is a mixture of both. If silver popped up it probably came from Victoria.’

But what people take into Sutton and Robertsons has changed massively since Tannahill started forty years ago.

‘I started in Victoria and we’d have a lot of clients bring silver in. They’d bring in the family silver in trunks and we’d have lots of lords and ladies. That’s all changed, people don’t want silver anymore. Old English silver isn’t the thing it was.’

He’s also seen demand for Victorian jewellery peter out with a move into branded jewellery from the likes of Cartier.

There does seem to be more people who think there is more value in their items, which can lead to some ‘awkward’ conversations, says Tannahill.

‘That’s probably one of the most common and awkward conversations you have at first – what you lend against and what someone believes it’s worth. Quite a lot of people have the perception that if you bought it in a retailer, it will increase in price.

‘It might do over a period of time, it might not. It’s certainly not instantaneous.’

Small business owners turn to pawnbroking
The cost of living crisis has pushed more people into pawning their items, according to industry leaders. But the people who use luxury pawnbrokers are more often than not insulated from the worst of the downturn.

‘In the last few years there has been a dramatic rollercoaster. We purchased the businesses in December 2019 and the loan book almost halved in about a year because of the pandemic. People had more money than they’d had before, swathes of the book were paid back.’

From that point, the firm doubled its loan book but it came from a low starting point. It has been on a steady upward trajectory since then, rather than a boom in business as seen in lower-end pawnbrokers.

Asked if he’s seen a different type of customer due to cash flow issues, Tannahill said: ‘Pretty much anyone that walks through the door has got a cash flow issue at that point in time.

‘There’s holidays, school fees, weddings, all of a sudden you need a big lump of money.’

Beyond short-term liquidity for personal reasons, small businesses are increasingly turning to pawnbroking too.

‘At the end of every given month, you’ve got salaries to pay. At the end of the quarter you’ve got VAT. You’ve also got suppliers to pay.’

One small business owner and part-time property developer faced an unexpected tax bill due on 31 January. Suttons and Robertsons loaned them £47,000 on a Banksy piece, which took just 2 days to complete.

Another businessman pledged their watch collection, which included a Rolex and Patek Philippe, for £315,000 to buy a hospitality business.

Suttons and Robertsons say 90 per cent of its loans are made to customers with an income of £100,000+ per year, and 75 per cent are in the top 5 per cent in terms of affluence.

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China to soon roll out policy on lowering down payments on car…

BEIJING, March 25 (Reuters) – China will soon roll out a policy on lowering downpayments on passenger vehicle online payday loans no credit check, the National Financial Regulatory Administration (NFRA) said on Monday.

The financial regulator has in recent years summoned multiple meetings attended by commercial banks and auto finance firms, among efforts to improve car online payday loans no credit check oversight, the NFRA said in a faxed response to an earlier Reuters report.

The policy on lower car loan downpayments has proven “mature,” and would be unveiled in the near future, according to the NFRA.

Current rules set a minimum downpayment of 15% for NEVs, 20% for internal combustion vehicles and 30% for used cars.

The imminent policy will reduce the cost of car purchases and help in propping up auto sales, the regulator said.

(Reporting by Qiaoyi Li, Ziyi Tang and Bernard Orr; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Oxford University friends set for $100M after selling software firm

Three Oxford University friends are set for a $100million (£79m) online payday loans no credit check after the ID-checking software firm they started in halls was bought by an American rival business. 

Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin founded Onfido, online loans for bad credit a UK start-up which develops ID-checking tools for firms such as Revolut, and they are now in line for an enormous payout following a $650million sale to US competitor Entrust.

The three Oxford graduates, all in their 30s, own around 15 per cent of the London-based software company between them.

Mr Kassai, the former chief executive, has a stake in the company worth more than $50million, The Telegraph reports.

While the three friends are set for a huge online payday loans no credit check, dozens of staff will also make millions of pounds, while Oxford University – who were first to back the three founders with a £12,000 stake – can also expect a massive profit.

Two of the friends, Mr Kassai and Mr Jubbawy, have since left Onfido to found new start-ups, but Mr Amin has remained as one of the company’s senior executives.  Onfido is currently led by American technology executive Mike Tuchen. 

Oxford University students (L-R) Eamon Jubbawy, Husayn Kassai and Ruhul Amin founded Onfido

Mr Kassai told The Times: ‘The ecosystem here in the UK has enabled us as founders — two of whom went to underprivileged schools — to get everything they need to build a large company. 

‘In that journey we have been lucky to help others to upskill and learn and cash advance america near me now a sign of that is the fact that more than 14 of the team have gone on to be founders of their own companies.’ 

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