Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are once again running our very successful School Uniform Scheme, which is being delivered in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Community Advice Services (MEACAS) and supported by Volunteer Now.
This scheme was initially piloted across the borough in July 2019 and has been providing good quality pre-worn school uniforms ever since. This has been a lifeline for many families particularly during lockdown when charity shops were closed. Last year, families were able to telephone MEACAS and arrange to collect uniform items safely (subject to availability).
Our Poverty Action Group took this initiative forward as the rising costs of school uniforms is a source of emotional and financial stress for many low income families. In some cases, families have described having to choose between eating and getting their children kitted out for school. This has also pushed some families into debt.
The true economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has yet to be seen, but with the Government’s furlough scheme ending a rise in unemployment is expected later this year.
It can cost families up to £250 per child to buy school uniform ready for the new academic year. This places additional stress on families. In these tough times with budgets already stretched, it could be ‘make or break’ for some of the households of the 30k schoolchildren in our borough. Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor Beth Adger said, “This is such a great initiative that has so many positive outcomes. Council is working hard to tackle poverty, particularly in the wake of multiple job losses over the last two years, due to the pandemic and due to the more recent issue of increase in living costs, particularly in respect to energy”.
Not only does it make good financial sense, it also strengthens communities and makes good ecological sense. School closures have been commonplace in fighting the battle against the pandemic, so whilst many uniforms may be outgrown, they will have had little wear so should be perfectly good to be used by another child. On average, each household bins more than 25kg of textiles a year. So rather than adding to the landfill mountains please play your part in helping us to sustain our beautiful environment.
Please note that at the end of this six week donation period, all uniforms will be safely sorted in line with all Government restrictions and then in late July we will announce details of where families can collect items of school uniform FREE OF CHARGE.
There is no qualifying criteria or referral process. People can go along and drop off uniforms, however if they have nothing to donate, they can still pick up anything that they need (subject to availability) throughout August. Beneficiaries will be asked to complete a very short questionnaire, which will be anonymous. This will allow us to measure impact.