North Ayrshire schools tackle poverty head on with Uniform Recycling Schemes
Posted on 6 Oct 2021
Buying school uniforms is an expensive business, this is why the Council are continuing to support the Uniform Recycling initiative, provided by local primary and secondary schools throughout North Ayrshire.
The Uniform Recycling schemes are critical in ensuring every child and young person has access to school uniforms that fit well, look smart and help them to feel part of their school community.
Annick Primary School in Irvine has offered a successful recycling service for around seven years now, providing good quality, pre-loved uniform items to the community.
And now most North Ayrshire primary and secondary schools or Parent Councils offer some form of uniform recycling service, where items can be swapped, bought for a reduced price or obtained for free.
The uniform recycling schemes aim to alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with the cost of the school day.
Councillor Robert Foster, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care (and lead Member for Poverty) commented: “Before the pandemic, over a million Scottish citizens, and nearly one in four children in Scotland lived in poverty.*
“Poverty-proofing the school day is an important way that we can tackle poverty in North Ayrshire head on.
“By giving children and young people equal access to school uniform, we can successfully break down participation and learning barriers while minimising opportunities for vulnerable children and young people to face income stigma and exclusion.
“As we start to recover from the effects of Covid-19 and the financial burden placed on so many local families, now is more important than ever to ensure equity for all as we help to relieve the stress and financial strain felt by parents and carers who are sending their children and young people to school.
“Since the new term has started, our schools and local volunteers have done a fantastic job of helping parents and guardians to access clothing with dignity via our various uniform recycling schemes.
“I am immensely proud of the great work happening in our schools none of which could be possible without the generous donations of used school uniforms from local families – thank you to all who have donated, we are so very grateful.”
Auchenharvie Academy in Stevenston is another local school who has established their own uniform recycling station called NA Plus (New and Pre-loved Uniform Station).
Started in November 2019, NA Plus not only helps families to save money, it is available for all pupils who need access to clothes at any time should they need it - for example, if a pupil ripped their clothes at break, spilled something on themselves or got soaked from the rain, they can pop-in to the station for clean, dry clothes.
The uniform station has gone from strength to strength and has now widened its offering to include toiletries following a generous £400 toiletries donation from a local businessman. Parents and carers are invited to simply drop in to collect whatever items then need for their family, free of charge.
NA Plus have also helped local families during the pandemic, organising a collection of over 1,000 items from staff and volunteers for the local food bank and distributing £80 worth of stationary to young people when they needed it following a donation from their community champion at Asda.
Allison Hopton, the Head of the Family Learning Team at Auchenharvie works alongside Parents in Partnership - a programme that aims to include parents within the school and within their children’s journey through secondary - who volunteer at the uniform recycling station and do most of the clothes laundering.
Allison said: “We’re so proud to have NA Plus here at Auchenharvie. It’s great to see how much it has grown already and we’re constantly looking at ways to continue improving this fabulous community asset.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported the scheme so far and I’m looking forward to the future of our uniform recycling station.”
And, with an estimated 300,000 tonnes of used clothing going to landfill each year*, the uniform recycling stations not only play an important part in tackling poverty in North Ayrshire, they also play an integral role in the Council’s sustainability strategy to reduce carbon emissions and become net zero by 2030.
Councillor John Bell, Cabinet Member for Education added: “Children grow so fast and replacing uniforms can really add to the cost of the school year.
“The school uniform recycling schemes significantly reduce textile waste as reusing outgrown uniforms is so much kinder for the environment rather than always replacing them.
“Although clothing grants are available, the cost of buying uniform is still a significant burden for families and the uniform swap is a much more effective use of resources.
“We are proud to continue to support the Council’s network of uniform recycling schemes throughout North Ayrshire. By giving children and young people access to school uniforms they can be proud of, we hope to improve their self esteem and help them to improve their learning outcomes as they can feel part of the school identity and be equal amongst their peers.”
#ChallengePoverty #NowIsTheTime #CPW_Scotland