Free school uniform bank set up to help struggling Sunderland families

Coun Louise Farthing.
Coun Louise Farthing.
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Families facing the financial pressures of buying new school uniforms can take part in a Sunderland scheme.

Pre-owned school uniforms are being offered free of charge to parents in the city from uniform recycling initiative, One for the Wardrobe.

The often almost new uniforms have been donated by parents across the city whose children have grown out of them, for re-distribution to other families.

Led by Sunderland City Council through the Sunderland Partnership and delivered by churches and voluntary groups the project has been running for three years.

There are currently more than 500 items of branded primary school uniform available in good or new condition such as cardigans, sweatshirts, polo shirts and jumpers available free of charge to all parents and there are no criteria for eligibility.

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Coun Louise Farthing, said: "The increasing cost of school uniforms increase the pressure on family finances, especially when more than one child has to be kitted out with the average cost of a primary school uniform estimated to approach more than £200.

“Given the speed at which children grow many uniforms have had very little wear, and it makes perfect sense to make them available for someone else to wear in instead. Both my daughters use similar schemes where they live, and I’d encourage anyone to do the same.

“Our city is committed to up-cycling and recycling perfectly usable things for people and our community partners to use and reduce their costs, and this local initiative has been a fantastic success helping dozens of children in the city since it was introduced.”

Director of the church and community network, Sunderland Connect, Deb Fozzard, said: "Latest research suggests that more than half of all parents have bought or received pre-owned school wear with recycled clothing schemes, swap shops and exchange schemes increasingly started by the parents themselves.

"These days all families face increasing financial pressures including buying school uniforms and recycling and re-using clothing in this way can only help reduce those pressures.

"A number of schools in Sunderland now have their own system of collecting and distributing uniforms and I would encourage more schools in the city to do so. Reducing waste in the city is important for us, and we can do our bit by reusing and recycling goods wherever possible.”

For all enquiries please email: Sunderland.partnership@sunderland.gov.uk.