Back to School Bank’s campaign for equality

Deborah Shepherd has started a Clothes Bank.

Deborah Shepherd has started a Clothes Bank.

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A Kirkintilloch woman was so disgusted by the hefty charges levied for many school uniforms that she launched a pioneering clothes bank.

Trade union worker Deborah Shepherd says she is outraged that ‘crazy’ things like canary yellow socks – costing £10 per pair – are required items for gym at one state school.

Expensive embroidered blazer badges are among a list of other items that, she says, make the start of every new school year a nightmare for many parents.

Just a year after she started her campaign there are now 10 different ‘banks’ across Scotland offering help to parents who don’t have the resources to splash out on fancy uniforms. Like food banks the Back to School Bank scheme relies on donations.

Deborah said: “What we are doing is getting referrals for people who need help, and getting children fully uniformed in the most effective way possible. In most cases the child just gets the uniform, without even knowing it has been supplied.”

She added: “No child should have to go to school marked out as ‘different’ from everyone else - yet so many parents find themselves in a seemingly impossible position.

“Realistically it costs about £150 on average to equip a typical child for school – but beyond that an insistence on uniforms with peculiar colour schemes can greatly increase the cost. It is good news for suppliers, but literally beyond many parents’ means”.

Deborah launched the school uniforms bank concept with a friend in East Renfrewshire, where it turned out there were a surprising number of people struggling to cope.

Now she hopes the idea is well enough established for people in other areas to devise their own local versions of the scheme.

She is also campaigning for a “black and white” approach to uniforms, a move she said would make a major difference to production costs.

There’s more about the back to School Bank scheme on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SchoolUniformBank/info