Edinburgh School Uniform Bank

Konect Balerno and Colinton editions, June 2018

It was one of those times when you think, ‘I’ll just help my friend out a bit with her project’ and before you know it you’re fully involved in running a very busy charity!” says Balerno resident Linda Russell.

The project was what is now the Edinburgh School Uniform Bank (ESUB). It started as one of Linda’s friends in Edinburgh keen to fill an increasing need for many kids not able to get new school uniform due to financial hardship. Going to school in the “wrong” clothes, children are vulnerable to bullying, social exclusion and low self esteem; the knock-on effects on their education are significant. I met Linda and her fellow volunteer Julia Grindley in Balerno to find out more.

“Families are referred to us by professionals such as head teachers or social workers. They apply for a school pack which we then assemble from donated items, and we send it back to the referrer.” It sounds simple, but there is a huge amount of work and co-ordination involved.

“People are incredibly generous with their donations, and when all our living rooms started being taken over by uniform and other school equipment, we realised we had to get a premises!” says Julia. They were lucky to acquire the use of a room at Balerno High School to store, sort and pack everything.

Sponsor a Child

“Over the summer, we’re looking for supporters to sponsor a child. We give you the age and gender of the child in need, and you can donate a set of school uniform and equipment such as pencil case and stationery for her/him.” The community was incredibly generous with the Sponsor a Child appeal last summer, and ESUB are hoping for a good response this summer too.

Alternatively you can donate just an item or two – pick up a pack of polo shirts or a pair of trousers while you’re doing your shopping. Additional items such pencil cases, lunch bags and stationery are welcome too. 

All the shops will have their “Back to School” ranges in store this month before the holidays!

The local drop-off points for donations are:

Balerno High School (near the entrance to the pool & gym halls), 5 Bridge Road, Balerno, EH14 7AQ

Riccarton Garden Centre, Riccarton Mains Road, Currie, EH14 5AA

Currie Library, 210 Lanark Road West, Currie, EH14 5NX

Currie Community Centre, 280 Lanark Road West, Currie EH14 5RU (Saturday mornings in term time only)

Colinton Library,14 Thorburn Road, Edinburgh, EH13 0BQ.

There are many other drop-off locations throughout Edinburgh, so do spread the word.

“We prefer to use new clothes,” says Linda. “We don’t want to hand out anything that is not in excellent condition. It’s about respecting the recipients.”

ESUB handed out over 300 packs of uniforms last year and this year demand is likely to be higher. “The number of referrals has taken off exponentially in the past couple of years. Families experiencing financial hardship come from all walks of life. In particular, we get referrals from Women’s Shelters – sadly it is not unusual for a woman to have to flee domestic violence and leave her home with the children and nothing else. Imagine what it’s like for the children starting at a new school in a different area and not being able to have a decent set of appropriate uniform.”

Summer Packing Party!

Over the summer, Linda and Julia would like to host small Packing Parties where you are invited to get a few friends together and come to Balerno High School to spend an hour or two packing and blethering. There might even be home-baking! “We’re not asking for a regular commitment, but if you can manage a one-off during our busy time it would make a huge difference to how many we can get out to families in time for the new term,” says Linda.

To donate items, sponsor a child, arrange a summer packing party, refer a family, or to get involved in any way with Edinburgh School Uniform bank, please contact them, they will be delighted to hear from you!

Website: www.edinburghuniform.org

Facebook: “Edinburgh School Uniform Bank

Email: edinburghbtosb@gmail.com.

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