While browsing through The Reading Chronicle this morning, I came across an article titled “Free school uniforms for families in need”. Immediately, memories flooded my mind about how difficult it was when I was growing up to afford a new school uniform. Curious, I read on.
The Reading Chronicle explains that First Days, a Woodley based charity, has initiated a fundraising scheme that encourages people to donate their old school uniforms to those families who are facing financial hardship.
“Since May, altruistic people have been dropping pre-loved uniforms into pink wheeling bins placed in libraries in Wokingham, Woodley, Finchampstead and Lower Earley by children’s charity First Days.”
I have experienced first-hand the difficulties that families can face with the financial strain that education brings. There is a huge pressure inflicted upon parents each year to supply a fresh uniform for their ever-growing children, and for those without the financial means or assistance, it can be a really difficult time of year. On top of this, the amount of peer pressure felt by children to have all the best stationary and the ‘coolest’ bag means that parents are having to spend even more money on the most up to date range of school accessories.
“Michelle Pattison, charity coordinator, said: ‘Most families find readying their children for the new school year a challenge. Between uniform, shoes and stationery, it can be an expensive time. If you are already struggling to make ends meet, it can seem like an impossible challenge.’”
Reading this, I am convinced that this crucial fundraising event should not just be a one-off initiative. This is our chance to go out to each school around the world and promote the recycling of all uniforms. Being a parent can be an extremely expensive journey, therefore we should work together to offer and receive help without shame. If parents are concerned about the repercussions in the school yard from their children wearing ‘used’ clothing, no one need know they received a donation.
There is no shame in families needing help.
If we were to make this the norm, it could help to communicate the importance of looking after clothing and school accessories. It could also help to educate children about the financial strains that their parents face on a daily basis, and may even reduce the amount of times you hear “can I have” from a child who doesn’t understand the costs of parenting. Although children should not be placed in a position of worry, it may do them some good to understand the implications of these annual school requirements.
You too can get involved!
If you’re interested in donating any used school uniforms and live local to Berkshire, First Days “is running a uniform collection drive until July 30”. After this, the clothes will be washed and sent off to designated referral centres where children can go to try on various uniforms throughout the month of August.
“Throughout August, First Days will be hosting five day-long ‘School Uniform Pop-Up Referral Centres’ in Woodley, Wokingham, Reading, Slough and Bracknell.
“Referred families will be invited to come and collect a number of back-to-school items in person and children will be able to try items on to ensure they have correctly fitting uniform and shoes, ready for the new school year.
“First Days is looking for all types of non-logo uniform, PE kit, shoes, socks, school bags, lunch boxes, rain coats and winter coats, all in sizes 3/4 to 7/8+ years old.”
To refer a family for the above initiative, visit www.firstdays.net/school.