Schools in Scotland are preparing to open their doors in just a couple of weeks. In the meantime, thousands of Scottish families are suffering financially as a result of coronavirus related layoffs or furloughs. Many families simply do not have the money to outfit their children with new uniforms for 2020. Enter the uniform bank.
Charities in Scotland have taken the idea of the food bank and expanded it to include school uniforms for children. According to MSN, there are now uniform banks scattered all across the country. They stand ready to help thousands of parents whose kids need new uniforms before the start of the school year. And yes, the uniforms are provided freely.
What Parents Can Get
Parents looking to take advantage of the uniform banks can essentially get whatever they need within reason. Uniform banks provide everything from cardigans to blazers and neckties. Even outdoor clothing, like coats and hats, is available. Parents can fully outfit their kids in preparation for attending classes for the entire school year.
Parents do have to be referred to a uniform bank in order to take advantage of its services. Fortunately, there is no shortage of organizations and individuals legally allowed to make referrals. Families can be referred by social workers, teachers, family support workers, and even their local councils. Referrals can be made for a host of reasons, including poverty and unemployment.
Keeping Uniform Banks Stocked
MSN says that most uniform banks in Scotland remained stock prior to the pandemic by accepting donations from the general public. A family’s children would outgrow their uniforms and the family would donate them to a local bank. These days however, banks are reluctant to take donations. Used clothing has to be quarantined and disinfected.
Donors who still want to help can now donate cash instead. The banks will go out and buy the necessary items brand-new. Donors do not get as much bang for their buck, but the system still works.
Maintaining Uniform Policies
One might wonder why schools do not simply drop their uniform requirements for the coming year. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. While there may be more referrals this year due to furloughs and layoffs, uniform banks have been getting steady referrals for years. Dropping uniform requirements now would likely mean dropping them permanently.
According to Alsco, schools often choose to mandate uniforms in order to remove the distractions of individual fashion and clothing choices. Some educators believe that uniforms give schoolchildren a sense of identity in that they belong to something bigger than themselves. At any rate, uniforms are very important to the UK system. It is not likely they are going away.
Here in the States, Alsco says that school uniforms are not the norm. Most public school systems allow kids to come as they are for the most part. Where uniforms are required, they are usually the domain of private and religious schools.
Helping Those in Need
Back in Scotland, their uniform banks are helping families in need. Those unable to provide school uniforms can turn to their local banks for help. Here’s hoping the banks have enough clothing to meet all of the needs for the coming school year. Otherwise, parents will have to find another way.
Few anticipated the long-term impact of coronavirus when it reached the West earlier this year. But as its impacts are being made clearer, we are learning just how much a virus can disrupt the world. Who would have thought that something as seemingly benign in school uniforms would be directly impacted by the crisis?