Uniform exchange scheme celebrates boost from Huddersfield launderette firm
IT started off as an idea inspired by a TV documentary on child poverty.
Today Kate France’s Uniform Exchange, which provides free school uniforms for poorer families, is going from strength to strength.
In the last 12 months alone she has help kit out 200 children across Huddersfield.
Local businesses, schools and families have been a big help, donating thousands of items of school clothing to the project.
And now Kate is celebrating another big boost to the operation, after a Paddock-based launderette offered its services for free.
The firm, named Navy Whites, washed and dried bags of jumpers, shirts and trousers following an appeal by the mum-of-two.
Thanks to staff’s efforts the uniforms are now ready to be sent out to the families who need them the most.
Kate, from Nettleton Hill, said: “We get lots of uniforms from school lost property boxes.
“It’s great that they give them to us but they get dirty in there and need washing.
“I’ve been trying to do little bits myself but I’ve got 10 full bin bags and with my domestic machine that would be 20 loads of washing.
“It’s hours of time and there’s no way I could have done it all myself.
“I’m so grateful to Navy Whites for what they are doing – they’re even providing the washing powder!”
Kate contacted the Market Street firm and they were more than willing to help out.
Niki Lloyd, from the company, said: “We thought it was a good charity and she’s doing a good thing so why not?
“There was eight months worth of washing and it took us five to six hours to do it all, but we’re happy to help again.”
The Uniform Exchange will have been running for two years in July.
It has been a huge success, with hundreds of families already benefiting from being handed free items of school clothing.
Kate accepts items in any condition, with worn-out clothing sold for rags, and also takes sports clothing and anything which is school-related.
She said: “They can be so expensive – a logo jumper alone can cost up to £30.
“The project has been really successful and a lot of people have come on board and helped put.
“Oxfam has been really good in looking for school uniforms that come in and sending them to me.
“There’s a lot of gratitude. We had an email from a school just after Christmas saying thank you as the kids feel so proud of looking so good.
“I want children to feel like that when they go to school rather than holding their heads low or being bullied.”
As she looks to expand the scheme Kate has sent out 20,000 leaflets to schools in Huddersfield.
She is also looking for a new premises to house the operation.
It started life at the National Children’s Centre in Huddersfield town centre.
The scheme then moved to the Olympus Technologies building in Firth Street after Kate appealed in the Examiner for a new location.
Since August Kate has run the exchange from there rent free, but as the company now wants to rent out the space she is on the move again.
She is appealing to businesses who can provide a clean, dry space sized around 1,000 square foot to help out.
Kate can be contacted on 07955 724789.