A GROUP of mums are calling on parents to donate unwanted school uniforms to poorer families.
They’ve founded a Uniform Exchange to help Huddersfield families who won’t be able to afford a new school uniform in September.
The idea came to Kate France, Hanna Klein and Esther Lee after watching a TV programme about child poverty. They were so moved by seeing young children without their own school uniforms they immediately set about finding ways to help.
And after discovering school uniform grants had been cut by Kirklees Council, they jumped into action. Uniform Exchange will supply donated second-hand uniforms to those who need it the most.
The three mothers have been supported by Ruth Duffy and former Berry Brow teacher John Cashman who are both based at the National Children’s Centre. And just three weeks after having the idea they are calling on parents to donate unwanted uniforms now.
Kate, mum to Ethan, four, and Laana, one, of Scapegoat Hill, said: “I was watching the TV programme sobbing. I was heartbroken for the children.
“One little boy was wearing his sister’s school shirt and half-length girl’s trousers. I was shocked because this is happening so locally too.
“I thought ‘is there nothing anyone can do?’ and the idea came from there.”
When Kate discovered the grants had been axed, she rallied friends and decided to do something themselves. She’s joined by Hanna, of Slaithwaite, mum to Elias, five, Miika, three and two-year-old Eva, and Esther, of Outlane, who is mum to Isaac, six, and Annie, three.
They’re calling on parents to donate trousers, skirts, dresses, jumpers, PE kit, shoes, pumps and outdoor coats.
Esther added: “Anything that children need for school we’d like as donations.”
Ruth Duffy from the National Children’s Centre said: “I was watching the same TV programme and had the same idea, then I got Kate’s email and knew it was something we had to do.
“We already look at what help families need – particularly the ones who slip through the nets of the support agencies – but having a group of mums who have so quickly organised this is brilliant. “People don’t need to fill in application forms or join a waiting list – we can get this sorted quickly.”
Parents can drop school uniform donations off at all Sure Start Children’s Centres, Brian Jackson House and participating primary schools in Huddersfield will act as collection points.
The contributions will be collected by a Uniform Exchange volunteer and they will be cleaned, ironed and repaired before distribution. Damaged items that are beyond repair will be sold as rags to raise funds for the project.
Hanna added: “Each school and each parent is needed to make this initiative a success and to actively support struggling families in our area.
“This is an opportunity for each parent with school aged children to get involved and help to bridge a gap in our community.”
The Kirklees grant was phased out in 2010 and the council is not offering school uniform grants. A council spokesman said: “We have supported the people setting up the uniform exchange.
“We have helped with producing publicity material and distributing information to schools in order to raise awareness. This has been done at a discounted rate as a gesture of our support. We wish the project all the best.”
For more on the Uniform Exchange Project, how to donate and collection points, visit www.uniform-exchange.org