School uniform recycling initiative a major success

Vanessa Craig pictured in the Shantallow Community Collective, Racecourse Road, this week with some of the donations to her School Uniform Recycling initiative. DER3017GS037
Vanessa Craig pictured in the Shantallow Community Collective, Racecourse Road, this week with some of the donations to her School Uniform Recycling initiative. DER3017GS037

The organisers of a community initiative to recycle donated school uniforms for families facing financial hardship, have welcomed the massive response from local people.

Local woman, Vanessa Craig, came up with the idea for the School Uniform Recycling project and with help from a team of others, set up the project last weekend.

Vanessa Craig pictured in the Shantallow Community Collective, Racecourse Road, this week with some of the donations to her School Uniform Recycling initiative. DER3017GS036

Vanessa Craig pictured in the Shantallow Community Collective, Racecourse Road, this week with some of the donations to her School Uniform Recycling initiative. DER3017GS036

Ms. Craig said she was motivated by recent plans to cut of up to 60 per cent to grant funding for school uniforms. Despite a U-turn on the cuts earlier this week, the recycling project will continue because, Ms. Craig said, it is apparent the grants issued are often nowhere near enough to kit out a child for school, while many local families who don’t receive benefits or uniform grants, are struggling to find the money needed.

Vanessa said there has been a huge response already, with hundreds of items such blazers, jumpers, shirts, pairs of shoes and PE kit donated.

This has included four boxes of school bags donated by local businessman, Eddie Kearney, this week, while Joan Harkin and the local women at a car boot sale in Derry are also supporting the initiative.

Ms. Craig said: “A lot of people have been donating. People here are brilliant, really brilliant. There’s actually more of a demand so we are keen to get as many donations as possible. There’s a lot of parents who are worried. It is across the board- there are people not in receipt of any benefits who are finding it hard too, as well as people who are in receipt of benefits.

“We have received donations from different schools in different areas and all different items, blazers, primary school uniforms, jumpers, football boots. People ring us and tell us what they need and the size and school. A lot of people may feel embarrassed but this has happened through no fault of their own. It’s the way the world is and everything is confidential and there is no money passing hands at all. The kids getting uniforms will hopefully alleviate the stress for the parents. Some of the PE gear costs £50 alone and the full grant is only £73 at most. In many cases that is not even going to cover blazers.”

Ms. Craig said they were taking in uniforms for all schools, with demand high for uniforms for St. Brigid’s College in Carnhill.

Donations can be left at Shantallow Community Collective off the Racecourse Road (11am to 3pm); Rosemount Resource Centre (10am to 4pm) and Siopa Doire, William Street (11am to 3pm). Those in the Creggan area are asked to ring 028 71414498.

Those in need of uniforms can make contact t via the Facebook page ‘Schooluniform Recycling’ or call in to Shantallow Community Collective.