TWO mums have launched a uniform exchange to help parents struggling to buy schoolwear.
Rachel Rhodes and Caroline Fotios have set up charitable organisation Mum’s The Word.
They recently set up a temporary ‘pop-up shop’ at St Thomas’s CE Primary School, Blackburn, selling uniforms for minimal prices to parents.
And they said they are desperate to get a van to offer a mobile outreach service for families in the harder to reach areas of the East Lancashire area.
Mum-of-three Rachel, 43, of Roe Lee Park, Blackburn, said: “I don’t know how parents are expected to fork out so much money on uniforms.
“Things are getting really tough and there will be a growing need for this service.
The number of referrals we receive is increasing all the time.
“The families we help are so grateful for the service. It’s a lifeline for some.
“In some cases if pupils don’t turn up with the right uniform on, they are turned away.
“There are some schools that have generic pants, shorts and jumpers, but a lot, especially secondary schools, have logos on everything and it’s expensive.”
Rachel, Caroline and six helpers, who work on a voluntary basis, keep the service running.
She said: “You can easily pay £200 on a child’s uniform.
“Many parents I spoke to said they just binned their children’s uniform when they had finished with it or when they had outgrown it.
“It seemed ridiculous so I put clothes baskets at all the children’s centres in Blackburn with Darwen and in lots of the schools.
“Mum’s The Word takes all the unwanted uniforms and offers a one-stop shop, offering infant school pants for 50p, and senior blazers with logos from £12 – which is half the price of a new one.”
The idea started as a pilot in Blackburn with Darwen, which has now been rolled out across East Lancashire.
Blackburn with Darwen Council said it plans to stop the discretionary clothing grant to help families on low incomes buy uniforms. In 2012/13, more than 5,000 grants were awarded.
Lancashire County Council scrapped school clothing grants in 2006, which were made at the discretion of local authorities to help with the cost of uniform for pupils attending state-maintained schools.
To contact Mum’s The Word call Rachel on 07856 897 673.