Pre-loved uniform partnership saves cash for Staffs families
published on 7 Mar 2023
Staffordshire parents were able to access free school uniform clothing for their children during half term last week, due to local churches and libraries partnering amid the cost-of-living crisis.
A pre-loved uniform market (‘PLUM’) took place at The Salvation Army church on Faraday Road during half-term, as well as Hednesford, where items of school uniforms were available at no cost to parents.
The project began in the Cannock Chase area during the coronavirus pandemic and now includes Stafford.
Amy Bayliss-Fox, Children and Families Worker at The Salvation Army said:
“People still urgently need help to eat and heat their homes right now because of continued rising inflation, cold weather and rent charges. If we can help parents to save some money on uniform costs, it frees up money for food or energy bills.
“We are ideally placed to hold a market for families here during half-term, as we have parking, we are also next to a school and we have the facilities and volunteers to help parents looking for school clothing. Many parents have been able to get what they need for their children – thinking ahead into spring and summer while saving money too. Families need the help of churches and charities more than ever before and we are here, working in partnership with the Council. Our next pre-loved uniform market will be during the summer holidays and we would encourage local families to come along and take a look.”
The market was held over three days during the half-term break and The Salvation Army assisted 23 children in Stafford and 106 children in Cannock Chase (Hednesford) with new or used items for their school uniform. The Christian church and charity working together with Staffordshire libraries have saved families £55,000 since the start of the initiative in 2020, across Cannock Chase and Stafford.
The PLUM market has developed as a partnership between the Council and The Salvation Army, with the Council encouraging people to donate pre-loved uniform items into local libraries and the churches holding the markets, where all items are free for school children.
Father-of-two, Aswath, from Stafford said: “We found out about the PLUM market through the school newsletter. I really love the way the scheme has been marketed, because it says, ‘pre-loved’, not ‘used’ or ‘second-hand’. This is a positive way to talk about clothing, to re-use items that are in great shape. The clothes are equally as good as new and it’s good for the environment, there is no need to produce more clothes. We will donate these items back for the next generation of children.
“The clothes may be old for one child but they are new to the next. This is the first time we have used this service and we will use it again. We have saved around £100 today from all the items we have picked, we will tell our friends and people in our neighbourhood all about this.”
Helen, who has two children and lives in Stafford said:
“My children grow out of clothes so quickly and it’s difficult to buy clothes all the time. I think the PLUM initiative is brilliant, some of the clothes are immaculate and brand new. It’s great to be able to give my kids a uniform that fits properly. It is a lifesaver and I think I’ve saved £50, as I’ve picked up jumpers, tops, trousers, a pinafore and PE kit. We really appreciate it.”
The pre-loved markets stock everything from blazers, shirts, trousers and skirts to PE kits and shoes for children aged three – 16 years of age. For more information, contact your local school.
The Salvation Army church in Stafford also operates a food bank, a monthly support group for parents of neurodiverse children and offer their building as a warm space on Wednesdays, with activities throughout the day.