Derry mum's idea to recycle school uniforms helping hard-pressed families
Families in Londonderry who are struggling to cover the costs of getting children back to school in September have set up a uniform recycling group on Facebook.
The new page was set up just last weekend and aims to help less well-off families by putting old uniforms back in the classroom for another term.
The page - which has been inundated with requests for help as well as offers of uniforms - is the brainchild of Vanessa Craig who wanted to find a new home for her own daughter's uniform.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms Craig said that while the page she set up is for the Derry city area, this is something that could help families anywhere.
Ms Craig was speaking just hours before the Department of Education announced a U-turn on £3m in cuts to the uniform grant.
She said: "I am a single parent myself and my last daughter had just finished school and her school blazer - which cost me £150 - was sitting upstairs going to waste. I spoke to some other parents who still have children at school and they were telling me how concerned they were about the cuts to the uniform grants which was putting a lot of stress on them.
"We came up with the idea of recycling uniforms through a Facebook page and got it up and running last Saturday and it has really taken off.
"People have been donating, they have been brilliant. A lot of people are sending us private messages because they want to donate anonymously.
"We have had a local businessman in Derry who is donating four boxes of school bags for the children and local community groups have been in touch offering drop off points for people to leave the uniforms.
"People have been so generous, it shows how caring and giving people are and how they recognise the amount of hardship that some families face trying to get their children school uniforms."
Ms Craig has gathered uniforms for every school in the Derry City Council area.
"The people we are helping are not just families on benefits, we have been contacted by people who have had their tax credits cut as well," she said.
"We have also been contacted by other parents asking for help and so far we have been able to help everyone we can through putting an appeal on the Facebook page.
"We really would encourage anyone, anywhere, to do what we have done.
"No one is making money here - everyone who donates does so freely and anyone who needs a uniform will get one free of charge.
"It is all down to the people who have been donating who have been fantastic."