Charity says demand for free school uniform up 400% ahead of new term

Report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney

A charity in Wokingham, which provides families with free school uniforms, says demand has risen by 400% ahead of the new term.

First Days Children's Charity says costs are too high forcing some parents to turn to them for help.

In the last year the charity has provided 5,000 children with essential items, like school uniforms, at no cost.

The charity says the families they help are mostly in work and it is the price of branded items like blazers that are the biggest problem. 

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Emma Cantrell, Chief Executive, First Days Children's Charity said: "Demand overall has gone up by 400% since the pandemic, so loads and loads of families are finding themselves in financial difficulty, struggling to make ends meet, because of furlough or because of lost hours or lost jobs and the demand has gone up hugely."

A study last year by The Children's Society found parents spent on average more than £300 a year kitting out a child for school.

Families also need to spend money on additional items, such as PE kits which can be roughly an extra £39.

Many schools are now asking children to have their own tablet computers to work on.

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A new law will come into effect in the autumn which means schools will have to keep prices down but the timing has been criticised.

It means this year parents and carers will miss out on cheaper deals ahead of the next academic term.

The Department for Education said: "We want to ensure school uniforms are affordable for all parents.

"This new law will help to save families money and ensure that uniform cost is never a barrier to accessing education."