Every Child Warm project supports hundreds with coats and shoes
published on 1 Sep 2023
Quality coats, school uniforms and shoes were provided to more than 200 children as part of a Salvation Army project tackling poverty in Gateshead.
Every Child Warm runs over three days at the end of August inviting families who are struggling with rising costs to take home more expensive items such as winter coats and shoes in time for the start of the school term.
Now in its seventh year, it is also a chance for the church and charity to signpost people to further support.
Every Child Warm focuses on making the experience enjoyable for youngsters who can pick their own items and enjoy a tasty snack afterwards.
One mum Pari, 30, who volunteers at The Salvation Army, said: “At Every Child Warm I’m able to get coats for my son, shoes, a shirt for school. It helps me because if you made a list of all the things needed for school and add it up it would be more than £50. The things here are new and good quality."
Having spent more than £200 already on uniforms for her three children aged 14, 11 and seven, Nazreth, 43, who works as a case officer for a legal aid agency and volunteers at The Salvation Army, is struggling with rising costs.
She said: “My son is just starting year seven so needed a new blazer, which was expensive. I came to Every Child Warm to get stationery, a nice rucksack for my daughter and jackets. The items are all high quality, so having spent so much on uniforms to then be able to get the rest of these items really helps.
“I saw that there was a blazer here for my son’s school and I was so happy because I thought that will really help another family that is struggling.
“I just want to say a massive thank you to The Salvation Army and to all the people who donate, God bless them.”
As well as being supported by The Salvation Army’s Philanthropy department, and Salvation Army Trading Company Limited (SATCoL), who provide coats and shoes donated to clothing banks across the UK and new items from corporate partners, donations come all year round from congregation and members of the public.
For Every Child Warm customers, Northumbria Water, Citizen’s Advice Gateshead and Gateshead Council, were also on hand to offer advice as part of a roadshow to help residents get support and advice to cope with rising bills.
Gateshead Salvation Army Community Manager Ann Humes said keeping children fed and warm is a priority in an area of high deprivation.
She said: “While we do provide school uniforms, our focus is on the more expensive items. Many families may have stretched themselves to buy school uniforms which can run into hundreds of pounds, then are left with no money for things like stationery, school backpacks, shoes and coats.
“What makes it special is seeing the children’s faces light up when they find something they like. They are not just given items, but can pick and choose themselves with the help of our brilliant volunteers who act as ‘personal shoppers’. It makes it a lovely experience for them and helps them feel a sense of dignity when they go back to school.
“Thank you to all of those who donated and to our seniors group who polished all of the shoes, as well as the Philanthropy department who help fund bus fares for our guests, who travel from all over Gateshead. We couldn’t do it without you.”
Lt Tony Kakande, who leads The Salvation Army Gateshead, added: “It’s been another successful year for Every Child Warm. What makes it unique is the relationships we build with people who come, families who have been referred to us by other agencies or who we’ve supported in other ways. Getting to know them gives us the chance to find out what they need and to help in a targeted way so we can see a genuine improvement in their situation. Then, they start coming to The Salvation Army not in tears, but as volunteers to help others.”
The Salvation Army, located at Tennyson Court, Gateshead, also runs a foodshare project, affordable summer camp, breakfast and afterschool clubs.