What are you planning on doing with your child’s school uniform when the term comes to an end next month? If it’s too small, or they’re leaving the school, and you don’t have anyone to pass it on to, then Cardiff and Vale and Barry School Uniform Donation would love to take the clothes off your hands.
And if you’re a family worried about the cost of school uniform, then you can get in touch confidentially and the organisation will do its best to kit your child out from its donations.
Cardiff and Vale and Barry School Uniform Donation was founded last August by Cardiff mum Rhiannon Thomas, who wanted to pass on her 15-year-old son’s near-perfect and rather costly uniform to someone in need. In less than a year, the group has helped more than 100 families and has received around 1,000 donations.With the new academic year in sight, they are expecting a busy few months ahead as they aim to ease the growing financial burden of kitting out a child for school.
Katie Scholes is a Cardiff mum of three and step-mum of two. She works full-time but also volunteers to help run the service, alongside Rhiannon and Barry mum Becca James.
She says, “Schools encourage their pupils to wear their uniform with pride. But if you have a child who is embarrassed to go to school because they have holes in their jumper, or they are pretending they don’t want to wear a jumper when actually they’re cold but their jumper is too small, where’s the pride?
“We hear of children who are turning up at school hungry but we also hear of children who would rather not go to school than go in dirty uniform or too small uniform. If they can look and feel nice in their uniform then that is one less thing for them to worry about and they can concentrate on their schoolwork.”
“As a mum it is devastating to know that a child is living in that level of poverty five minutes down the road.”
Pupil Development Access grants – money allocated by local authorities in Wales towards the cost of school uniform – go some way to addressing the problem for those most in need. However these are only available for ‘looked after’ children and those claiming free school meals. The grants are capped at £125 per child and are only for children entering reception class in primary school or year 7 in secondary school, or aged 4 or 11 in special schools, special needs resource bases or pupil referral units
With many schools requiring uniform branded with school logos from expensive suppliers, and children often outgrowing shoes and clothes before the school year is up, the grant is rarely enough.
And then of course there are the families for whom no financial help is available, with Katie saying they have been surprised by how many working families have approached them too.
“These are the families who might look affluent, but they have mortgages and huge childcare bills, and no entitlement to any Child Tax Credits or benefits. They often have less disposable income than those on benefits.”
Katie says, “We have helped hundreds of families and received around a thousand donations, if not more. We are just trying to do our best to help.”
But they can’t do it without support from the public.
What to donate and where
Donations are accepted for uniforms from any nursery, primary or secondary school in Cardiff, Barry, Penarth and the Vale, as well as school shoes, coats, PE kits, school nativity and World Book Day costumes, uniforms for clubs such as Scouts and Guides, ballet outfits, football boots and so on.
Uniforms can be donated at local Hubs in Llanrumney, Fairwater, Llanedeyrn, Butetown, Llandaff and Splott, as well as at any Coop Funeral Care (Rosemount on North Road; James Summers on Newport Road; James Summers in Whitchurch; Roy Larcombes in Adamsdown; Llanrumney Funeral home on Countisbury Avenue; Ely Funeralcare on Cowbridge road, Ely; all in Cardiff; and W.A Browns in Llantwit Major; A G Adams in Barry; and James Summersin Lavernock Penarth).
They are also in desperate need of big storage boxes and plastic tubs and containers so that they can organise and store the uniform.
Families in need of uniform can contact the organisation confidentially and they will arrange delivery of the required uniform to their nearest hub.
The response to the donation service has been overwhelming, says Katie. Originally the women were operating out of their own homes but with the uniforms piling up and people turning up at all hours, it soon became clear that they needed a more sustainable solution. Katie’s employer, Coop Funeral Care, were quick to step in, offering up donation/collection space as well as storage. They have also received invaluable support from Flourish, which is part of Cardiff Community Housing Association and is funded by National Lottery Community Fund under their Helping Working Families fund.
Katie says people’s generosity has been incredible, not just in terms of pre-worn clothing, but also asking if they can buy new school uniform to donate. On occasions when they have posted urgent requests in their Facebook group, people have donated to cover the cost of the uniform.
Confidential and discreet
She adds that while many schools offer out unclaimed lost property uniform, parents often fear being judged by other parents and may not want others to know they have been asking for old uniform at school office.
“We are completely confidential,” says Katie. “We don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed or ashamed. There is no judgement here.
“We want the uniform to go to families. We don’t want boxes full of it sitting unused.”
And, she adds, no donation is too small. “You might only have one pair of school trousers to donate and think that’s not enough, but actually that one pair of trousers can make a huge difference to someone’s life.
“We are doing what we can and us all working together makes a difference.”
You can follow Cardiff and Vale and Barry school uniform donation on Facebook here. Please contact them in confidence if you would like to discuss collecting school uniform.
More information about Pupil Development Grants towards the cost of school uniform here.
Donations are accepted at the Hubs in Llanrumney, Fairwater, Llanedeyrn, Butetown, Llandaff Hubs and Splott; as well as Uniforms can be donated at local Hubs in Llanrumney, Fairwater, Llanedeyrn, Butetown, Llandaff and Splott, as well as at any Coop Funeral Care (Rosemount on North Road; James Summers on Newport Road; James Summers in Whitchurch; Roy Larcombes in Adamsdown; Llanrumney Funeral home on Countisbury Avenue; Ely Funeralcare on Cowbridge road, Ely; all in Cardiff; and W.A Browns in Llantwit Major; A G Adams in Barry; and James Summersin Lavernock Penarth).