A set of school uniform is much more than a bag of clothes. Read on to learn about the impact of our work.
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
When a child goes to school in the “wrong” clothes, they are vulnerable to social exclusion and poor self-esteem, which may result in reduced attendance, attainment and participation in social, sporting and cultural activities. Some children do not attend school at all due to lack of suitable clothing or footwear.
Children often need shirts, jumpers and other uniform items, but sometimes the less obvious essentials are needed:
- If a family only has one towel, their children are unlikely to attend school on swimming days.
- If a child’s only set of footwear is a pair of wellie boots, they are unlikely to participate in sports at school.
- When the weather is cold, children who don’t have a coat are more likely to stay at home.
By providing uniform, footwear and other essentials we boost confidence, inclusion, attendance, attainment and wellbeing. The impact of our work is best illustrated by feedback:
“Young people feel more comfortable and confident in attending school when they are arriving with new uniforms and accessories this makes such a difference for them, helping them achieve as they feel ready and respected, it changes their mindset and gives them that sense of pride that they are looking smart.”
“Recently when I got some packs it meant the difference between not going to school & going as the children had no uniform at all. The packs meant the kids could attend school in those first vital days at start of term.”
A wee boy who did not want to return to school due to previously not “being the same” as the other kids said: “I love my bag, look mum I have a pencil case and a water bottle! When does school go back?”.
“One child started to line up with her class instead of waiting at the back with her parent!”
“Going to school with new uniform has a huge positive wellbeing to the young people. They feel happy about going to school and not being made fun of by others because of have new, clean clothes.”
PARENTS AND CARERS
Many of the families who are referred to us face multiple challenges such as mental health issues, disability, temporary accommodation or fleeing domestic abuse. Many others are struggling with in-work poverty without access to grants or benefits. The stress of providing school clothing and footwear to fast-growing children is immense. By giving parents and carers a helping hand through difficult times, we take some weight off their shoulders and give them some breathing space. Feedback shows that this helps to change the environment at home for the benefit of all family members.
“The assistance of the Uniform Bank providing uniform for these young people makes such a huge difference to these families, it takes off such a massive strain, it makes them feel supported and they are then more likely to encourage attendance, provide a more nurturing environment at home for our young people and to engage with us as a school community.”
Sometimes the sense of relief felt by parents and carers is unmistakable:
“Many of the parents have broken down and cried with relief receiving the uniform packs as financial hardship is a huge issue.”
We often hear from our referring partners like social workers, family support workers and school staff that being able to refer families to us opens doors for them because it builds trust. A support worker who pops round with a bag of new uniform for each child in the family is likely to build positive relationships with the parents/carers and therefore to help them access further support.
When consumers throw away clothing, not only does it waste money and resources, but it can take 200+ years for the materials to decompose in a landfill. During the decomposition process, textiles generate greenhouse methane gas and leach toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater and our soil.
By re-homing pre-loved school uniform we are saving it from landfill, giving the clothing a new lease of life, and normalising the wearing of pre-loved items in school