School uniform bank is first in Fife

From left - Aimee Chalmers, Jean Kemp, Anne White, Anne Glen and Polly Murray.
From left - Aimee Chalmers, Jean Kemp, Anne White, Anne Glen and Polly Murray.

Parents of schoolchildren who find it hard to make ends meet are to be given help by a new initiative to be set up in the Howe.

A meeting is to be held in Strathmiglo this Sunday, January 24, with a view to establishing Fife’s first-ever ‘Back to School Bank’, an idea that runs successfully in other parts of Scotland.

The ‘Back to School Bank’ is run along the same lines as a foodbank, except with uniforms instead if food.

It’s being started by the group WAAAGH! - Women’s Anti-Austerity in the Howe - which was established to help alleviate the effects of austerity measures.

A non-political group, WAAAGH! has members from all across the political spectrum .

They hope to join forces with women from other areas in Fife in setting up the uniform bank.

There are currently between 15 and 20 uniform banks in Scotland and Sunday’s meeting will be addressed by the founders of the first project, which was set up in Renfrew.

“Hundreds of uniforms were provided across Scotland last year by existing Back to School uniform banks,” said organiser Aimee Chalmers.

“They provide families in need with a complete new school uniform for their children.

“Referrals may be made by headteachers, doctors or social workers.

“Donations are sought by Facebook – each branch has its own page - and complete uniforms are delivered to the home as a parcel so that the child gets the pleasure of opening the packets, and doesn’t need to know the uniform wasn’t provided by his or her parent(s).”

Everything from winter coats to socks are needed in ages ranging from primary one to sixth year of secondary school.

The way it works is that once a request for help is received, organisers post the size, sex and age of the child who needs something on Facebook and people can either donate the clothes themselves or the money to buy them.

The clothes must be new, but packs of underwear, socks and school shirts can be bought quite cheaply in many supermarkets.

In addition, the group is campaigning for the standardisation of school uniforms as many families can’t afford the cost involved in buying blazers and other items in particular colours.

Sunday’s meeting will be held in Strathmiglo Public Hall between noon and 2pm and lunch of soup and bread will be provided.

Invitations are being sent out to other women’s groups throughout north east Fife in a bid to generate as much interest as possible.

Meanwhile, WAAAGH! is still extremely active in the community and has a series of public meetings planned as well as a hustings event in April, to which the four North East Fife candidates in the Scottish Government elections have been invited. List candidates for Mid Scotland and Fife will also be invited if their party isn’t already represented on the panel.

WAAAGH! also operates a foodbank hub in ‘Muchty, where people in need can pick up food parcels provided by Cupar foodbank, and has registered for an allotment on Falkland Estate so that fresh food can be grown locally.

Said Aimee: ”We’re trying to encourage women in our communities to come forward and make their voices heard.”

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