Food bank's thank-you to community for kitting up families in need ahead of school term

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 September 2019

Danielle Downey presents the uniform bank with 10 pencil cases, 10 shin pads and 10 gum shields, to help families in need. Picture: Clarissa Place

Danielle Downey presents the uniform bank with 10 pencil cases, 10 shin pads and 10 gum shields, to help families in need. Picture: Clarissa Place

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Families struggling to pay for new school uniforms have thanked all those who generously donated to a new initiative.

Andie Milne of Sid Valley Food Bank with the clothes and accessories donated to the uniform bank. Picture: Clarissa PlaceAndie Milne of Sid Valley Food Bank with the clothes and accessories donated to the uniform bank. Picture: Clarissa Place

The Sid Valley Food Bank set up a 'uniform bank' at the start of the summer giving people a place to donate new or pre-loved pieces of school clothing or stationery to help those trying to make ends meet.

Andie Milne, the bank's co-ordinator, said a 'huge thank-you' to the community, on behalf of the families they helped, with the donations which included brand new school items, stationary and good quality pre-loved uniform.

Alongside the clothes, the food bank received more than £600 in cash donations allowing the charity to give out a number of £20 vouchers to families to spend on school uniform.

More donations have been received and the food bank is currently discussing how the funds can be spent to support school children.

Andie Milne of Sid Valley Food Bank with the clothes and accessories donated to the uniform bank. Picture: Clarissa PlaceAndie Milne of Sid Valley Food Bank with the clothes and accessories donated to the uniform bank. Picture: Clarissa Place

Author and mum-of-six Danielle Downey wanted to give something back and donated 30 pieces of equipment including pencil cases, gum shields and shin pads to the project.

Mrs Downey said: "We were in this position, we lost the house. I know how expensive it is (to buy school equipment).

"It's getting the message out there that there is no shame in asking for help and saying can anybody help me.

"We both work we have six children and life just got in the way. We had no money, no food in the cupboard and it was before food banks started up. Fortunately we had a friend to bail me out, we were living from hand to mouth."

For the sixth year the food bank has provided its school meal support to families that are entitled to free school meals during term time.

Over the summer the food bank has provided 63 children with four lunches a week and snacks including fresh fruit.

Ms Milne said the proof will be in the pudding if numbers needing the food bank service drop due to the initiative.

She said: "A lot of them have been people that are working and trying to make ends meet. It's to help them relieve the strain of the school holidays and on the children as well.

"You do not have to be on benefits to struggle. It's a huge thank-you to the community, a massive thank-you for what they have done."

During the school term the bank will put the remaining clothes into packs for families to collect in emergencies.

It is working with parent support advisors (PSA) within the Sid Valley schools and will reopen the bank during the October half term holiday.

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