Uniform Exchange bursting at the seams – can you help?

A MOTHER-of-two who set up a recycling scheme has become a victim of her own success.

A year ago Kate France set up Uniform Exchange, which provides free school uniforms for poorer families, after watching a TV documentary on child poverty.

The scheme has operated very successfully out of the National Children’s Centre in New North Parade, Huddersfield, for the last 12 months.

But, a combination of factors means that Kate is now hoping a local business or organisation will step in to offer larger premises.

The Uniform Exchange has received thousands of items of school clothing and hundreds of bin bags over the last 12 months.

At the same time the children’s centre has had to reduce the amount of space it is able to give Kate for free.

This means that the Uniform Exchange is literally bursting at the seams.

Instead of it taking Kate five minutes to get a uniform together when a request comes in, it is taking her anything up to 40 minutes to find everything.

Kate, of Nettleton Hill, said: “The National Children’s Centre has very generously allowed me to stay in situ rent-free for the last 12 months. Their support has been crucial to the success of Uniform Exchange.

“Due to the constant influx of donations more space is required to store the school uniforms. Unfortunately, they now have nowhere for me to expand into.

“We are now looking or a new location. It could provide an opportunity for a local business to support a community project showing corporate and social responsibility without having to give anything away.

“They can be associated with our local project and, if they wish, their logo or name could be put on all future marketing material and on the website.”

Kate launched the scheme and a website at www.uniform-exchange.org a year ago by sending out 20,000 postcard-sized fliers to 80 local schools.

The whole operation is run on a shoestring and relies on Kate giving up some of her free time each week.

The Uniform Exchange currently has over 2,000 items of school clothing in stock and has benefited from some large donations over the last year.

Morrisons gave a staggering total of 35,000 items from end-of-line ranges. Most of these were socks, but there were also T-shirts, vests and shorts.

Two schools at South Crosland and Shelley gave many bags of lost property clothing. In addition, numerous families have donated outgrown uniforms.

Kate accepts items in any condition, as poor quality or worn-out clothing can be sold for rags, generating a further source of income. Nothing is wasted.

Uniform Exchange also accepts old shoes, pumps, schoolbags, sports clothing and anything which is school-related. Everything can all be handed on or sold and any proceeds from rags will go straight back into the scheme.

A full school uniform can cost up to £100 and Kate is keen to stress that the service is targeted to help those most in need.

Anyone whose child would benefit should fill in the form online at info@unifom-exchange.org. Any business which may be able to offer premises of around 45 square metres should contact Kate on 07955 724789.

Read more: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/uniform-exchange-bursting-seams—4950293