Hard-pressed parents set to benefit from school uniform recycling scheme

A school uniform recycling scheme is coming from Whitstable to Canterbury

by Neasa MacErlean

A scheme to recycle school uniforms is set to be extended to Canterbury and Ashford after 1,000 items of clothing were given to families in Whitstable.

The Whitstable Community Wardrobe ran over the summer holidays, reaching about 150 families through four different sessions held on four different days.

Promoted on Facebook, the initiative reached nearly 9,000 people at its peak — the third of the four days.

The charity Together Canterbury, which helped the Whitstable churches run the project, is now talking to churches in Canterbury and Ashford with a view to setting up outlets in those locations next year.

The Whitstable events are planned to be repeated in February, Easter and over the summer.

Keith Berry of Together Canterbury, said: “We didn’t weigh or count the items because we did not expect it to be so overwhelmingly successful.”

He said the event held at St Alphege Church in Seasalter lasted an hour longer than the planned two-hour slot because of the continuing flow of parents arriving.

Mr Berry went on: “Although there is full employment a lot to people have one, two or three jobs that pay the minimum wage. We are talking about families where both parents are working. Housing Benefit does not cover the rent and I see no evidence that life is getting easier for people.”

School uniforms can cost £400 per child, according to the Canterbury branch of debt advice charity Christians Against Poverty. Centre manager Rebecca Leeves has helped clients find funding for uniforms. She would like to see schools adopt an approach that reduces the cost. “An iron-on badge that costs £2 would help a lot,” she said.

  • Another innovation from Whitstable is Canterbury Food Bank’s Soup Cellar. Up to 30 people have been attending Soup Cellar, held on Wednesdays at the Whitstable Umbrella Centre. Soup is given free — but the venture is self-funding since many people — holidaymakers, local workers and residents and some regulars — make donations. Representatives of homeless charity Porchlight and the Canterbury Housing Advice Centre also attend most weeks.


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