With the ongoing pandemic leading to an increase in the number of families financially struggling, many of our services have seen an increase in requests for school uniform support ahead of the return to school. Katie is the Community Development Lead for our Elmbridge Family Centre services in Surrey and details how through community support the team was able to support families in need of essential uniform support ahead of the return to school this month. Katie writes:
‘‘I was responsible for organising the uniform support this year. Early on during lockdown, following a conversation with the Individual Grants Manager at the Walton Charity (a local charity working in the Borough of Elmbridge), we identified that school uniform was going to be a problem this year, especially for families who could not even afford food and essentials.
”The Walton Charity has previously helped families in the Borough to get a new uniform and they saw an opportunity to work with Spurgeons due to the contacts we already had in terms of Schools, Health, Family Support Programmes and Children’s Services. This year we would manage the requests and they would support with meeting the needs of the families.
”They usually give around £4,000 between July and October each year, offering one of the compulsory branded items each child needs, plus Clarks shoe vouchers as well as an additional non-branded item per child, such as skirts, blouses, socks etc. On average this support is equal to between £100 to £300 per child depending on the school and age of the child. On comparison, one school’s compulsory branded items came to £405 per child which only accounted for one of each item and excluded unbranded items such as blouses and socks.
”Over the course of several discussions. They gave an early £2,000 in June which was taken up in less than a week with more than 15 enquirers for help with the uniforms. Following this, they added an unprecedented £5,000 more to the fund making a total of £7,000 that could be used for uniform support.
”It was a big task to contact all the families and establish what they needed and which school they went to. We then needed to buy the vouchers, establish links and communication with all the shops (Clarks, supermarkets, and individual school uniform shops). Communicate with the parents to make appointments and then order and distribute vouchers, and the uniforms. But lots of families have said they could never have afforded any new uniform items this year. We also encouraged the schools to hold second-hand school uniform sales at reduced prices and asked parents to approach these first too.
”We supported 70 individual children and 42 families who were all able to receive most of what they needed.”
Without the support from The Walton Charity we would not have been able to support so many families with the back to school essentials required for their children.
To find out more about The Walton Charity, click here.
About the Spurgeons Elmbridge Family Centre Service:
Spurgeons family centres in the borough of Elmbridge, Surrey are places where parents of children aged 0–11 years can share the challenges and joys of parenthood. The centres offer a range of activities and support services to help you with all aspects of parenting, helping you make sure your child gets the best start in life.
To learn more about our work in Elmbridge, click here.