How a mum is recycling Doncaster school uniforms to help under pressure families
Mum of three Tracey Leigh is fighting to make sure hard-up Doncaster families don’t go hungry to pay for school uniforms.
She has set up a scheme in Wheatley that provides free gear for families who have hit on hard times, operating out of a church.
Tracey has created a local branch of a scheme called Pre Loved Uniform, after hearing how some families are struggling to pay for branded uniforms at their schools.
She saw the demand for her services double this year to around 50 families, from around 25 the previous year. Most cases are down to ‘unexpected circumstances’ she said.
She set up the scheme four years ago, after learning about a similar scheme in Sheffield, which she has been working with, and operates from St Paul’s Church in Wheatley.
“I felt it was difficult paying for school uniforms with my three,” said Tracey. “Getting them through school was not easy – it’s not just uniforms, it is all the costs, and I knew a lot of people had issues.
“I also knew if clothes had a logo on them, they usually just ended up in the bin, as charity shops wouldn’t take them, and neither would sites that weighed-in clothes. It is such a waste. My kids got a lot of hand-me-downs, and things from friends, but I’m not sure society works like that now.”
Now, she takes unclaimed clothes from schools’ lost property, and donations of uniforms in good condition. She is working with six primary schools who refer families to her that they see as in genuine need.
She also holds community uniform sales, selling items for between 50p and £3, with proceeds used to buy bits of uniform for the families in the greatest need that cannot be sourced through donation.
She agrees with CADB that there is an issue.
“Families have enough to worry about without the cost of school uniform,” she said. “So many schools want logoed items and we now get requests for unusual colours. We have also had schools changing their logos - then we can’t hand the old stock out and have to throw it away.”