Shipley uniform bank preparing for back-to-school rush
published on 30 Jul 2021
Volunteers are processing, washing and preparing as many as 20 sacks of donated school uniforms a week to meet growing demands from families ahead of the new school term.
The Salvation Army runs a uniform clothing bank in Shipley to help provide caregivers with affordable school uniforms second-hand. The bank collects school uniforms for around 40 local schools, as well as PE kits, brand new underwear and socks and other essentials, such as stationery, school bags, lunch bags.
Last summer, Shipley Salvation Army supported 79 families with 748 items of school uniform over three months – it was 56 families in 2019. Despite January to April being quieter months for the volunteers, when the uniform bank reopened in February the team received 65 requests straightaway, including five large referrals from schools for multiple families. This was in addition to people self-referring.
Dawn Coleman, who heads up the uniform bank, said: “We’re expecting demand to be high on our service again this summer. People have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result, requests for help are already rolling in. Caregivers in families that were hard-pressed but getting by before the pandemic have been tipped into financial hardship as furlough payments didn’t stretch far enough or incomes were lost entirely.
“We know winter was tough with unexpected costs from children being home-schooled and extra funds being spent on food and heating. The uniforms people bought to last the year were then outgrown after little wear and placement appeals processes were delayed for school places, so a number of parents had bought uniforms for one school that then needed to be swapped for another.
“Thankfully our generous community means we have a good range of quality uniforms for most of the local schools that we can provide to families who need them, so children can go into school feeling confident in what they’re wearing, with the right equipment and ready to learn.”
Church leader, Captain Laura Mclean, said: “We’re grateful to the community for their support and for our amazing team of volunteers who have found ways to make this possible even when faced with a pandemic.
“Not only has our uniform bank been a vital touch point for families in need, we’ve been able to welcome our community back to parent-and-toddler sessions and church services in our garden and at the local park. So many people have been isolated over the past year so it’s been good to start to reconnect again in a safe space and enjoy time with each other – as well as allowing us those key conversations that help us identify people who need that little extra support.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve managed to carry on demonstrating God’s love for everyone by offering practical assistance where we can – from providing individual support when required, to signposting people to additional services, dropping off food and activity packs to people who are self-isolating or are ill and being a reliable source of help or friendship in tough moments. We will be here long after the pandemic is over.”
Shipley Salvation Army uniform bank will feature in an upcoming episode of Songs of Praise on BBC Two on Sunday 8 August 2021 at 1.15 pm. The episode will also be available on BBC iPlayer.
To get in touch with Shipley Salvation Army contact (01274) 533 259 and for the uniform bank, visit the Facebook page.