Cost of living causes second hand uniform demand to double
published on 27 Oct 2023
Demand for second hand uniforms has doubled at Mirfield Salvation Army’s uniform hub this year as people struggle with high costs.
Mirfield Salvation Army, which set up a partnership with Kirklees based charity Uniform Exchange two years ago, has given out 232 uniforms so far this year compared to 119 uniforms for the whole of 2022 with families requesting them throughout the year rather than just before term starts.
The church and charity’s hub provides uniforms for seven schools in the town as well as sports kits, winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves and shoes.
Salvation Army Community Mission Facilitator Sheena Grills, who set up the hub with Uniform Exchange, said: “For the year so far we are at 225 uniforms whereas last year we issued 119 over the whole year so the demand is there.
“Usually demand increases in July and August as parents prepare for the new school year and then tends to drop off, but we are still giving out about eight a week and we are getting more requests for items like hats, gloves, scarves and coats.
“When we first started doing requests the majority of people for the Mirfield area said they were requesting uniform for environmental reasons - to recycle and avoid uniforms going to landfill. Recently there has been a real shift. I can’t remember the last time somebody stated environmental reasons. I think people are more open about the fact they are coming to us as it eases financial burden and there is a less of a stigma.
“Uniforms can be very expensive and when you add in winter items, coats and shoes, it can cost hundreds of pounds. For people with more than one child it’s incredibly difficult.”
The Salvation Army works alongside Kirklees charity Uniform Exchange who take referrals via their website. Any Mirfield requests come through to Sheena and her team who action them and contact parents to arrange collection or delivery.
Donations can be made at The Salvation Army hall in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield Library and the Forget Me Not Charity shop on Station Road. Uniforms are collected, washed and sorted by a team of dedicated volunteers.
Donation points are also available at schools including Mirfield Free Grammar where Sheena’s son Bertie Grills, 15, successfully set up six donation points last year.
Sheena added that the benefits of uniform exchanges mean parents can then spend the money they would have been spending on uniform on other things.
She said: “I think there is a direct correlation between uniforms and the food bank. If parents can get their uniform from us, they are then not as likely to come to us for a food parcel. We find there are times we’re doing more uniforms and less food parcels.
“The partnership with Uniform Exchange is working really well and we have a lot of support from the schools who advertise donation points to parents. It makes a real difference as we then have enough stock to meet the growing demand.”
Uniforms are collected for Mirfield Free Grammar as well as Battyeford CE (VC) Primary, Crossley Fields School, Crowlees CE (C) Junior and Infant School, Hopton Primary, Old Bank Academy, and Castle Hall Academy.
Mirfield Salvation Army, which recently welcomed a new church leader Major Andrea Still, also runs a food bank, provides snack parcels to primary schools, a coffee shop, has recently launched a parent and toddler group and family space and is getting ready for this year’s Christmas Present Appeal.