The cost of living crisis is biting hard with a Huddersfield charity set to provide free school uniform to well over 7,500 local children in the coming year which equates to around 75,000 items.

Uniform Exchange has been shocked to discover that requests for help have almost doubled over the last school year.

Founder Kate France noticed there was a big surge in requests earlier this year and when she checked back on her figures they showed an 87% rise in applications for help over the last school year compared with the previous one.

Uniform Exchange was set up 12 years ago this month (July) and has been a registered charity since March 2018.

Demand on it has grown every year and this year expects to give away at least 75,000 items of school uniform – but possibly much more. The charity helped 1,800 schoolchildren in 2019 but that had soared to 3,500 in 2021 and topped 5,500 last year.

To order your free reused school uniform simply go to on the new Uniform Exchange website and fill in a quick online form.

All of the uniform is donated at collection points spread throughout Huddersfield in schools, supermarkets, libraries and community centres and now is the time for people to donate unwanted uniform so it can be turned round and sent out to other families before the start of the new school year.

Kate said: “We have more than 20 volunteers and the demand on us as a charity is now huge over the summer and until the end of September.

“At one point last summer we had 1,000 requests for help in our in-tray and we are expecting the demand to increase this summer. It’s a massive logistical exercise collecting all this uniform, sorting it out, cleaning and mending it where it’s needed and then sending it out to those who have requested it.”

Poverty affects one in three households in Kirklees – that’s 15,000 children – and the cost-of-living crisis is making life even tougher for families struggling to make ends meet.

Uniform Exchange works with all 182 schools throughout Kirklees to make sure the children get the uniform they need. Several schools such as Lindley Junior, Kirkheaton Primary and Moorlands Primary at Mount near Salendine Nook, hold pop-up giveaways in partnership with Uniform Exchange to distribute free uniform. These are organised by the pupils themselves through their eco clubs. 

Although the charity was set up primarily to help people facing poverty and deprivation, Uniform Exchange wants second hand to be seen as the first choice to make it far more sustainable and cost-effective.

The average full set of high school uniform costs about £300 but consists of 32% polyester or similar synthetic fibres which is a lot of plastic going into landfill every time it is thrown away. Uniform Exchange kept around 50 tonnes out of landfill in 2022 and everything it receives is reused or recycled so nothing is thrown away.

It’s impossible to overestimate how important school uniform is to give a young person a sense of belonging so they feel a part of their school community, doing wonders for their self-esteem and sense of wellbeing. It means every child in Kirklees can go to school smart, proud and ready to learn.

Children who don’t wear school uniform are often vulnerable to bullying, truancy and some could then fall prey to those who would lead them into anti-social behaviour, gangs and crime. Some parents also feel a sense of shame and guilt by not being able to provide school uniform for their children.

Uniform Exchange is based in Lockwood and needs more volunteers to join its 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.

There are dozens of collection points across the town such as libraries, supermarkets, churches, community and sports centres. To find the one nearest you go to and click on the new interactive map.

Anyone who would like to volunteer over the summer, as the charity now has evening and weekend slots, can make an expression of interest email the charity at or phone 07955 724789.

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.