Belfast City Council to help school uniform exchange schemes

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School uniformImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A number of organisations in Belfast provide school uniform reuse schemes

A proposal to facilitate the reuse of clean and pre-worn school uniforms and PE kits has been passed by Belfast City Council.

Deputy Lord Mayor Peter McReynolds, who brought forward the motion, said he was aware of the "difficulties facing many parents".

He said the cost of uniforms was "ridiculous" and could run to several hundred pounds.

"It is the council saying we want to help you," he added.

Mr McReynolds said he was aware there were many community groups and clubs already providing similar schemes in Belfast and the motion was "in no way seeking to impose upon them or undo the fantastic work they've been doing".

The Alliance councillor said he wanted the council to "enhance and strengthen their success by working with them in helping to facilitate such schemes".

'Free at point of access'

He also outlined the benefits of a school uniform exchange.

"This helps with recycling, it is environmentally friendly and has a relatively low cost," he said

"The uniforms would be free at point of access.

"The benefit for families is that they don't have to worry about the cost of paying for uniforms."

Image caption,
Deputy Lord Mayor Peter McReynolds said parents faced difficulties in paying for school uniforms

The Scaffolding Project in east Belfast is one of the organisations which runs a school uniform reuse scheme.

Barbara Smith, project co-ordinator, said their scheme had received great support from the community since it was established three years ago.

She said they would promote designated donation points such as "a local advice centre or community centre" via social media.

Image source, The Scaffolding Project
Image caption,
The Scaffolding Project in east Belfast has a recycle school uniform initiative

"We are getting good condition school uniforms to be reused, no-one wants them to be sitting in drawers or going to landfill," she said.

"We have had people tell us they were able to get uniforms for their three children.

"They then would come back to us later and give us some uniforms they won't be using. It keeps it all going."

The motion brought forward by Mr McReynolds also called on Belfast City Council to "liaise with other councils in Northern Ireland who already provide/have agreed to provide a similar service".