How a Leeds community is helping parents that can't afford to buy their child's school jumpers

A school uniform bank has been set up in Beeston to help parents who can’t afford to buy food, let alone school clothes for their kids.

Saturday, 21st September 2019, 13:53 pm
Maureen Osborne Sawyer sorting through the donated school uniforms.

Over the summer holidays the school uniform bank, which is based at the Little Angels Playzone, has kitted out “a few hundred” school children over the LS11 areas of Beeston, Holbeck and Cottingley with uniform essentials that parents just can’t afford to buy.

Using clothes that have been donated when children have either grown out of them or left that school, they are then repaired if needed, washed and ironed ready for re-use.

The scheme was launched last year with a steady uptake but this year that uptake has been “hectic” say volunteers who run the scheme.

Leeds is becoming a two speed city where the gulf of inequality widens.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The work of the uniform bank is being highlighted as part of the Yorkshire Evening Post's City Divided campaign, which this week spotlights the effects that poverty has on a child's education.

One is Maureen Osborne Sawyer, 69. She said: “Last year it ticked over in the summer holidays and I thought it wasn’t going anywhere, but this year has been hectic. People have been emailing, texting, ringing asking ‘have you got this, have you got that?’”

She said the need for primary school clothes is less as supermarkets, such as Asda, sell packs of three polo shirts for £5 but for secondary school uniforms the requirements are stricter, for example, sweatshirts need to have the school logo on and can cost around £14 to £16 each.

Mrs Osborne Sawyer added: “I have chatted to parents when they come in and a lot are on their own with four kids and they say it is hard clothing them and feeding them on benefits.

“They are using foodbanks and can’t clothe their kids in the proper uniform. One woman felt so guilty because she had four children and nothing to give for the uniforms we have her.”

The system is run on donations and was an idea off the back of a football boot swap that was being run by a local team manager, also in Beeston, after he realised lots of children were unable to take part in sport because they didn’t have the right footwear.