LS26 School Uniform Scheme
Leeds Beckett Student Alice Hennigan has started a School uniform Scheme to benefit the local community. Here she talks about her work and what motivated her to start.
The BSc (Hons) Social Care Justice and Recovery Course is a new course within our School that commenced in 2018. The course aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge to promote positive work in the community. It’s really about changing the world – or at least our bit of it. Alice Hennigan is one of our students who is already undertaking amazing work in her local community:
Alice Hennigan (Year 2 student): I had the idea of creating a school uniform scheme one evening, after putting my daughter to bed during the initial ‘lockdown’ period of COVID - I realised that after starting Reception in September, she had hardly worn her uniform and likely wouldn’t fit into it by the time she returned for Year 1. I looked online for uniform donation/distribution schemes in my area but did not find anything, so decided to create one myself!
I started a Facebook page initially (@LS26schooluniformscheme) and made a post to ask anyone with outgrown, good condition uniform to donate it. It had hundreds of likes, messages, comments, and shares really quickly. It was a strict ask that the uniform be in good, useable condition. I set up a collection point at home, another at a community hall nearby, and a third within my local supermarket.
The uniform was then organised into boxes, dependent on the size, colours, school logo, and item. There are 8 primary schools and 2 high schools in my area, so there was a LOT of uniform donated! Items with minor damage were repaired and everything washed and ironed. My aim was to make it possible for all children to start school with uniform in September that would not have cost their caregivers the earth. Uniform can be so expensive, and during the COVID pandemic when so many are out of work, my aim was to bridge the gap between those that have and those that need.
I contacted local councilors, who allocated me space in a local community hall to distribute the uniform. People attending the scheme are encouraged to take whatever they need and there are no stipulations about how much can be taken, how often they visit, and no requirements to prove that they are ‘more’ in need than anyone else. Services also attend to gather items for families they work with. The hall holds the community food bank and baby bank, which means people can also utilise the uniform scheme in one trip. The scheme was so successful on a weekly basis over the summer it now runs on a monthly weekend basis so people can still access it if they need to.
The LS26 school uniform scheme has been featured on BBC radio Leeds and in the Yorkshire Evening Post. It was referred to in the Look North report about ‘Zero Waste Leeds’.
Link to the Facebook page -
Tracey Race is a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for the MA Social Work at Leeds Beckett University. Tracey has published work on the themes of family support and the involvement and participation of service users. Tracey has contributed Conference presentations on themes including children’s rights, childhood obesity and child protection, relationship-based social work.