In the past few weeks, 52 Lives has been in touch with several UK schools about families that will soon be in need of some help.
The summer holidays are approaching in the UK, which means a lot of children getting ready for a new school year, and a lot of school uniforms and shoes will need to be bought.
For some families, it calls for money they simply don’t have. There are often second hand options but they don't always offer everything a child needs. Some councils offer school uniform grants, but the level of help varies enormously – some don’t give grants at all, some give a one off payment, and some give regular grants to help as a child grows. The grants don’t cover everything and, even in areas where there are grants available, there are families that fall through the gaps – those that don’t quite meet the criteria for grants, for example.
The reason some councils don’t offer grants is because they say a school uniform is not a legal requirement. Which makes sense at a purely logical level. But I can’t imagine that logic is of much comfort to a parent who has to send their child to school without a uniform.
Buying my little girl’s first school uniform and getting her school shoes fitted was a lovely, memorable day. I never stopped to think that what was a special day for us, was a stressful financial burden for many, many others. Or one filled with guilt, for those parents who can’t afford to buy their children what they need.
So, this week 52 Lives wants to create a pot of gift vouchers that we can give to the schools as and when they need them over the next few months. The way it will work is when they have a family who needs help, the school will let us know and we will provide the gift vouchers.