STRUGGLING parents are being forced to rely on uniform donations amid the escalating cost of living crisis.
Charity leaders have reported steep increases in families unable to afford to clothe their kids, reports suggest.
Demand has risen for basics such as blazers, trousers and shoes after many items reportedly doubled in price over the summer.
One charity described the costs as “prohibitive” for many low-income families at a time when households are bracing for the “longest recession in 100 years.”
Dean Pallant, of the Salvation Army, explained the demand this year was “huge” – adding that staff had been forced to work throughout the autumn.
As a result he added there remains a “vast and urgent need,” as parents struggle to fork out cash for expensive uniform.
Teacher Hayley Millward, who set up the Featherstone uniform bank in West Yorkshire, said volunteers were forced to open an emergency uniform supply service with local authority social services to help cope with the volume of clothes needed.
In some cases, households where both parents work were turning up to the banks in needs of clothes.
“It’s heart-breaking,” she told the Mirror.
“There’s been a huge increase in people looking for uniforms because they cannot afford the money needed for a kid to start school.”
New statutory guidance, which came into effect in September, was meant to make uniforms affordable for all families.
But, because individual schools set their own uniform policy, some of them have not stuck to rules.
Instead, they have pushed for branded items with logos attached, which can cost up to four times more than the average supermarket prices.
Labour MP Mike Amesbury, who helped pass the law, believes many headteachers are “hiding their heads in the sand” and have failed to act on the issue.
He said: “Access to education should never be dictated by whether their parents can afford uniform, yet some pupils are skipping school rather than risk punishment by turning up in the wrong kit.
“Many schools are leading the way in putting affordability centre-stage but some aren’t paying enough attention, forcing parents to turn to uniform banks.”
Charity The Children’s Society suggested that the cost of uniforms is even getting parents into debt.
“Schools must make school clothes more affordable,” they said.
In September, the Sun revealed ways to get a helping hand with costs if you’re still struggling to afford school uniform.
For example, some charities give grants to help with the costs of education.
But bear in mind they often have a limited amount of money to give and usually have specific criteria which must be met in order to get a grant.
For example, members of union Unison can access grants of between £50 and £150 if they meet other income criteria.
And struggling parents who work in supermarkets can apply for a £150 grant to help with the cost of school uniforms.
Alternatively, charity Turn2Us has a free grants search tool so you can find out what help is available to you.
If you’re still stressed about the cost of living crisis, here are some contacts that could lend a helping hand for the time being: