School Uniform Scheme running in Mid and East Antrim
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is once again running the very successful School Uniform Scheme.
Delivered in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Community Advice Services (MEACAS) and supported by Volunteer Now, the scheme was piloted in July 2019 and has been providing good quality pre-worn school uniforms ever since.
It has proven to be a lifeline for many families, particularly during lockdown when charity shops were closed.
Last year, families were able to telephone MEACAS and arrange to collect uniform items safely (subject to availability).
Council’s Poverty Action Group took the initiative forward as the rising costs of school uniforms is a source of emotional and financial stress for many low income families.
In some cases, families have described having to choose between eating and getting their children kitted out for school, and the costs have pushed many into debt.
The true economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has yet to be seen, but with the government’s furlough scheme due to end later this year, a rise in unemployment is expected.
It can cost families up to £250 per child to buy school uniform ready for the new academic year, which causes additional stress.
In these tough times, with budgets already stretched, it could be ‘make or break’ for some of the households of the 30,000 schoolchildren in our borough.
Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Matthew Armstrong, said: “This is such a great initiative that has so many positive outcomes. Council is working hard to tackle poverty, particularly in the wake of multiple job losses over the last year, due to the pandemic.
“Not only does it make good financial sense, it also strengthens communities and makes good ecological sense. School closures due to the pandemic have meant that while many uniforms may be outgrown, they will have had little wear so should be perfectly good to be used by another child.
"On average, each household bins more than 25kg of textiles a year. So rather than adding to the landfill mountains, please play your part in helping us to sustain our beautiful environment."
The school uniform scheme is accepting all good quality garments including trousers, coats, skirts, cardigans, blazers, shoes, jackets, trainers, jumpers, sports kits, polo shirts and dresses.
Donations of good quality, clean school uniforms can be left at each of our Household Recycling Centres (locations below) between Monday June 28 and Saturday July 9:
Waveney Road Household Recycling Centre, Waveney Road, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, BT43 5BA
Redlands Household Recycling Centre, Harbour Highway, Larne, Co. Antrim, BT40 1AY
Glenarm Household Recycling Centre, Dickeystown Road, Glenarm, Co. Antrim, BT44 0BA
Larne South Household Recycling Centre, 5 Island Road Lower, Ballycarry, Co. Antrim, BT35 9HB
Sullatober Household Recycling Centre, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, BT38 9DE – please note: you will still need to reserve a timeslot on the online booking system, please select ‘School Uniform Scheme’ – book online.
HRC opening times can be found at the following link: www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/resident/waste-recycling/household-recycling-centres/At the end of this two week donation period, all uniforms will be safely sorted in line with all government restrictions and in late July, MEA Council will announce details of where families can collect items of school uniform free of charge.
There is no qualifying criteria or referral process. Members of the public can go along and drop off uniforms, however if they have nothing to donate, they can still pick up anything they need (subject to availability) in early August.
Beneficiaries will be asked to complete a very short questionnaire, which will be anonymous. This will allow the council to measure impact.