Berkshire charity offering second-hand school uniforms says demand from parents has rocketed

The Cowshed charity says items like school uniforms are currently top of the list of sought after items. Credit: ITV Meridian

A charity in Wokingham said the amount of parents relying on it for school uniforms ahead of the new academic year has doubled.

The Cowshed charity, which provides clothes, toys, toiletries and much more to those in need across Berkshire, says items like school uniforms are currently top of the list.

More than 5,000 people have approached it for help in the last year, which is twice as many as two years ago.

Rebecca Mole, The Cowshed said: "This summer we have received twice as many requests for support for school uniforms as we did last year. This is indicative of the financial climate at the moment.

"School uniform isn't cheap. People are struggling to afford it. With a lot of hard work and funding applications, we are just about keeping up and anyone who is referred to us for help is supported."

Sarah Findlay and her 8-year-old daughter use the service, which she has described as vital.

"I am not left with a lot of disposable income after I've paid all of the bills. There's not a lot left for things like clothing, toiletries, bedding.

"I think without places like the Cowshed, people would really struggle to keep on top of things like school uniforms. With children growing all the time, they always need new clothes."

Credit: ITV Meridian

It's not just clothing banks that are struggling to keep up with the demand, a food bank in Oxfordshire says the number of people it's helping each year has increased 9-fold.

The Didcot Emergency Foodbank is warning that it may have to limit the number of visits to cope with demand, which means people who rely on the service might have to seek help elsewhere.

Andrew Snell, who works at the food bank said: "We are in a situation where the demand is beginning to outstrip the supply. We have been supporting families week in week out but now because of the restrictions we're going to have to put on, we will have to limit that to initially just six weeks.

"It will be difficult for some families but there are other ways to get support out there, if needed."

Credit: ITV Meridian

One of those families reliant on the supplies is 26-year-old Aidan, who comes to the food bank in Didcot twice a week for himself and his dad.

They were both homeless but now have a place to live and his father is back in work.

Aidan has complex health issues and the pair are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

He said: "I don't think they cope well in all honesty. There are lots of problems in the area which are exaggerated by poverty."

Aidan is hoping people will continue to donate, adding "it helps people along the line".

With high prices and the credit crisis, our food and clothes banks say they will do all they can to support those in need during this difficult time.