East Ren Back to School Bank welcomes any help

Charity provides kids with essential school supplies and uniforms.
Charity provides kids with essential school supplies and uniforms.

A voluntary organisation working in East Renfrewshire providing school uniforms is seeing more of a call for its services.

The East Ren ‘Back to School Bank’ provides new school uniforms to disadvantaged children from poor and underprivileged backgrounds.

It also provides essential items such as gym kit, school bags and stationery, along with shoes, boots and jackets or blazers.

The group operates on a referral basis, only working directly with schools, social work departments, citizens advice and third sector organisations.

Its ethos is that children begin their school year without the added pressure of not ‘fitting in’.

Referrals are steadily on the increase and the group is working harder than ever to maintain stock levels.

There are several organisations offering good quality used uniforms but the essence of the bank’s work is different: To raise and maintain self-esteem, pride, self-respect and dignity by providing children who need it a brand new uniform – just like everyone else has.

The group came about purely by chance when Sandra Douglas, the co-ordinator, was shopping at Christmas 2014 with her school teacher daughter and was appalled to find that items of school clothing were on the shopping list.

Sandra decided to do something about it and the rest, as they say, is history.

She told us: “Back to School Bank launched in June 2015 with only two people involved, myself in East Renfrewshire and Deborah Shepherd from East Dunbartonshire. I met Deborah briefly earlier in 2015 and when I told her about my idea, she very quickly decided she wanted to be part of the initiative. The idea quickly took hold and before long there was a queue of people looking to start up their own Back to School Bank. This is exactly how I saw my vision developing. Each group working with complete autonomy to adapt to the circumstances of their own local need. There are now 20 Back to School Banks with one in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, 20 isn’t enough in Glasgow, never mind in Scotland, so the challenge now is to get as many groups as possible running, not only in Scotland but across the UK. If anyone feels they would like to consider setting up a Back to School Bank, please get in touch with sandra on: info@backtoschoolbank.com and you’ll see how simple it is to get this underway.”

We were touched by Sandra’s story and hope that our readers, or a local store will rise to the occasion and consider making a donation of school clothing or stationery.

This can be dropped into our offices at 100 Brand Street, Glasgow. G51 1DG. Tel. 0141 419 4245 or email: john.macinnes@jpress.co.uk.