By Andy Hirst
The end of the school year is here so thousands of families across Kirklees will now have school uniform they no longer need.
Huddersfield-based charity Uniform Exchange has made an urgent plea for people to NEVER throw the uniform away but to donate it to them instead.
The charity has dozens of collection points across Huddersfield and Kirklees in libraries, supermarkets, churches, community and sports centres so it couldn’t be easier to donate it.
Simply click here https://www.uniform-exchange.org/donation-points/ to find the nearest one to you.
The charity’s founder, Kate France from Golcar, said: “As we are all too painfully aware, school uniform is very expensive to buy and those costs will now keep on going up during the economic crisis.
“Here at Uniform Exchange we are absolutely committed to recycling old and unwanted school uniforms to families in need across Kirklees.
“It means people struggling to make ends meet will be able to concentrate on trying to ensure they can feed their families and heat their homes.
“So if you have any uniform you no longer need then please give it to us so we can help others. Never throw it away as you’ll be disposing of something that could be really useful for someone else.”
The Department for Education says all schools should promote the use of second-hand school uniform.
It states: “Second-hand uniforms can benefit all parents, particularly those on low incomes. In addition, by extending the life of garments, it is more sustainable.
“While schools can decide the particular method they are going to use to make the provision of second-hand uniforms available to parents, all schools should ensure that information on second-hand uniforms is clear for parents of current and prospective pupils and published on the school’s website. This should clearly state where second-hand uniforms are available.”
Kate says an easy way for all Kirklees schools to do this is to promote Uniform Exchange on their websites with a direct link to the Uniform Exchange website at https://www.uniform-exchange.org/
People are urged to donate all items of school uniforms, including sports and PE kits, along with coats, shoes, pumps and trainers.
Kate said: “What really upsets me is that so much school uniform is needlessly thrown away at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is putting more financial pressure on people than most of us have ever experienced before. Every item of donated school uniform counts.”
Kate revealed that every year an estimated 690 tonnes of school uniform is thrown away in Kirklees.
This comes at a time when Uniform Exchange has seen a 40% surge in demand over the last year alone … and that high demand is only going to keep on growing.
The charity collects 50 tonnes of uniform every year from schools and collection points.
Recent research reveals that parents in the north of England are throwing away 350,000 wearable school uniforms each year, just because they’ve been outgrown.
With the average school uniform consisting of 32% polyester or similar synthetic fibres, that’s the equivalent of 87 tonnes of plastic going to landfill each year, making up 25% of the 354 tonnes of uniform discarded annually across the country.
The discarded clothing needlessly causes an environmental problem when it could be given to other families or recycled as rags.
Uniform Exchange founder Kate France thinks the figures could even be even higher as there are 65,000 youngsters in education in Kirklees alone.
The charity helped 1,800 schoolchildren in 2019 but that soared to 3,500 in 2021. Kate fears the number of families they will need to help this year could well be near the 5,000 mark.
She said: “The increase in gas, electricity and fuel prices is already making a big difference and as time goes on I don’t see how people can afford the huge bills and that will be the majority of the country. It’s just such a depressing thought.”
Kate and a group of Huddersfield mums set up Uniform Exchange after they were deeply moved by a BBC1 documentary called Poor Kids screened on June 7, 2011, when austerity was gripping the nation. The charity was also in response to school uniform grants being cut.
Uniform Exchange is based in Lockwood and needs more volunteers to join its 25-strong team who sort the uniforms and deliver them.
People are urged to always recycle old school uniforms via Uniform Exchange and anything not deemed fit to give away, the charity recycles as rags.
Anyone who would like to volunteer can email the charity at email@example.com or phone 07955 724789.
* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.