A Moray charity that lends a helping hand to parents getting their children ready for school has seen a jump in referrals.
During the summer holidays, the Moray School Bank helped almost 350 children get ready for class.
It is a 30% hike in people seeking help – and operators blame the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moray School Bank – “a food bank for clothes” – has been helping kids since 2017.
It is based at a former farmhouse near Craigellachie and aims to provide new school uniform and warm winter clothing to children living in poverty across Moray.
The charity has a vast stockpile of clothes including shoes, shirts, trousers, shoes and bags.
They used to stock jumpers from 42 primary schools in the region but now offer plain tops in school colours.
‘Comfortable, confident and happy to learn’
Debi Weir from Moray School Bank said the impact of the coronavirus crisis across Moray was the reason they had more families turning to them ahead of the new term.
She said: “We’ve completed back to school. We had 349 referrals which is a 30% increase on last year.
“It’s down to Covid. Moray has been hit hard with job losses and poverty isn’t going away. Covid hasn’t helped.
“This is all about making sure the sure the child is going to school confident, comfortable and happy to learn.
“We speak to parents and kids about what they want their kids to wear. So for instance if younger children want a certain character on their backpacks.
“Younger kids will go to a local shoe shop to have their feet specially measured while we give teenagers a choice of trainers.
“Once everything is arranged we delivered it to the family. We work like a food bank and ask the local community to donate items to us.”
Gearing up to help pupils through winter
Debi said that even though the schools have been back for a number of weeks they will not be taking a break as they prepare to help kids gear for the winter months.
She said: “We deal with school uniform all year round because kids grow out of it or they move schools.
“We tend to slow down and our summer campaign ends at the end of September and we move into winter in October.
“We are already seeing referrals coming in for winter. It is important to have a warm jacket, hat and gloves and winter shoes. Anything to keep kids warm.”