More than 150 children received a school uniform as part of a Gateshead church and charity’s scheme to ensure families in the town on limited budgets could afford the essentials ahead of the new school term.
Gateshead Salvation Army identified a common need for families on limited budgets and community co-ordinator Ann Humes organised the collection of gently used, nearly new school uniform items – including coats and shoes – as well as rallying volunteers to wash and press the donated goods ahead of the distribution on Friday 25 August.
She said: “The Salvation Army has a long history of being at the heart of the community, supporting those who are most vulnerable or in need with practical assistance and compassionate support. We’re grateful for the way our generous community has joined our mission to source good quality preloved items of school uniform to share with families who might not otherwise be able to afford the essentials on the return to school in September. Local businesses have been exceptionally supportive, too, with new items, as well as an abundant collection of nearly new items by the Department for Work and Pensions.”
Several local agencies and schools referred families most in need to The Salvation Army, in Tennyson Court on Sunderland Road, for a uniform.
Peace of Mind, a refugee-led community organisation that supports asylum seekers and refugees in integrating into a new society and culture, referred more than 50 children to the church.
Peace of Mind family worker, Sarah Muzaffar, said: “Most of the families we help are on a very limited budget, which can be particularly hard when children are in school and require specific clothing. Schools provide meals, which are a great help to families, but summer holidays increase pressure on budgets. By providing a good quality preloved uniform, The Salvation Army has been able to take one thing off our families’ list of necessities and given them some much needed peace of mind.”
Volunteers supported the distribution of items today (Friday 25 August) and also spent time cleaning up all donations of shoes to ensure that all the uniforms were ‘term ready’.
Salvation Army church leader, Major Mark Dooley, said: “We wanted families to understand that as a church we see their unique value and worth and wanted the donations to be a gift that reflected that, so we worked hard to ensure all donations were of a high quality and were clean and ready to be worn ahead of the return to school.”