Do you know what it feels like to have to choose between feeding your children or making sure they have the right clothes for school? This is the reality for some families as with the rising cost of living, money isn’t spreading as far as it used to. With the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniforms and sportswear in England costing £101.19 per pupil, and with many primary schools also requesting branded uniform items, it isn’t hard to see why this additional cost is putting such financial pressure on households.
In 2022 we launched our Cool for School Campaign – a school uniform bank in addition to our usual baby bank services. We understand how not having the correct uniform can be a distraction for young people, impacting their wellbeing and causing them to miss school. Cool for School aims to help children fit in with their peers and removes one of the possible barriers of stopping them from attending school.
Through generous donations made at our donation points across Shropshire we have stocks of gently worn, pre-loved uniform items that we give to families in need. This consists of key non-branded pieces, as well as some branded items for local primary and secondary schools.
We usually offer support through a referral process by receiving requests from various partners including social workers, family support workers and school staff. However, we were aware that some families weren’t in the position to get a referral and with schools closed for summer it was clear we needed to reach out to the community. Thanks to a new partnership with Severn Fields Medical Practice in Shrewsbury where their catchment area covers areas such as Monkmoor and Meole Brace, we were able to host two uniform pop up events before the start of the new school term. This was an opportunity for parents to come along and select some of the essential school items they needed for their children. Over the course of both pop ups, we were able to help 28 children across 12 families. This ranged from children just starting school, to those in secondary school education.
We have another event planned for the October half term where we will have winter coats available. We also intend to return to Severn Fields during the spring term so that families can access spring and summer schoolwear items as well as change any items their children might have grown out of.