School Days 2023

Stripey Stork School Days 2023

“I am currently supporting a vulnerable family and Mum is getting anxious over new school uniform for September for her older children starting secondary school. Any help you can provide would be amazing.”

We are pleased to say that in 2023 we were able to provide 1,829 filled school bags, 1,810 pairs of school shoes/trainers and 6,893 items of school uniform, supporting 2,650 families with 4,154 children.

Why is School Days important?

After a huge response to our school support offer in 2022, we knew that 2023 was going to bring more requests than ever, with an increasing number of children struggling to access the practical items they needed for school.

2023 saw many more families facing worsening debt and hardship. Facing rising living costs, keeping children fed, warm and clothed has become more challenging, even for working families.

For families with children in school, the extra cost of uniform, shoes, stationery and backpacks was yet another worry of being unable to afford everyday expenses and bills. The impact of this hardship on families is huge – both practically and emotionally.

Recent research on the true cost of the school day from Child Poverty Action Group explains that “from transport and uniform to fun days such as non-uniform fundraisers, going to school involves lots of unacknowledged costs.” These put families under pressure and can act as a barrier to school attendance. The report gives some specific examples, stories which echo the experiences of some of our referral partners supporting school students.

“Children have said that they arrive late on days social security benefits are paid as they have to wait until bus fare money is available. Some pupils are missing time at school on themed and non-uniform days because they don’t have suitable costumes or clothing, and do not want to stand out among their peers. Others have reported times they could not attend school because they only had one uniform and it was in the wash.”

The cost of going to school in the UK is estimated by Child Poverty Action Group to be at least £864.87 a year, or £18.69 a week, for primary aged-children. For secondary school children, it is at least £1,755.97 a year, or £39.01 a week. At Stripey Stork, we will continue to do what we can to relieve some of this financial pressure on families in our community.

Children attending school without the necessary tools to learn can experience stigma and even receive penalties for not having it. The Good Company has also been involved in a valuable project in conjunction with three local secondary schools called The Cost of the School Day. What’s apparent from their conversations with students is how embarrassing it can be to ask for help and the stigma associated with this. Imagine queuing for lunch and being told in front of your friends that you aren’t entitled to certain items from the school canteen? Or, being punished in front of the whole class because you’re wearing the wrong uniform, but you don’t want to admit the real reason is because your Mum can’t afford it, so you accept the punishment?

Their findings indicate that a lot of the ownership is placed on the student or parent to ask for help, which can be humiliating, especially for children. Consequently, they’d rather not say anything and go without. By working with referral partners like Good Company, we can promptly provide help when the need for school items is identified at an early stage.

School Days in Action

We knew that requests for school support were going to grow in 2023, so in July we opened a second Stripey Stork site at Raven House in Redhill. Having this extra 6,000sqft space dedicated to school essentials enabled us to scale up significantly, and broaden the range of uniform items we were able to offer.

Abbie with Raven House keys

Our community of volunteers and supporters came together to help us kit out the space with rails and racking, and our longstanding partnership with charity Sal’s Shoes picked up pace as they began to stock our shoe room, now known as the tenth ‘Sal’s Shoes Shop’, racks and racks of brand new school shoes and trainers, which meant that we were able to provide that all-important pair of new school shoes for every child who needed them.

Sals Shoes

Our community partners ran donation drives to gather pre-loved donations of non-branded school uniform, which our volunteers then sorted, cleaned and packed into bundles to fulfil each request for support. We were able to add in PE kits, lunchboxes, and football boots where needed. For the second year in a row we partnered with fellow baby bank Jigsaw, based in Woking, who support children 0-10yrs through their Back 2 School campaign. We provided over 750 filled school bags, and helped with uniform stock. In return, they collected stationery and preloved uniform for 10yrs+ from the Woking community to support our campaign.

Providing school bags to Jigsaw in Woking

Referrals came in from organisations all over Surrey and beyond during the summer and autumn of 2023. We worked with forty-two schools who referred directly, and over 130 other organisations, including foodbanks, housing associations, family support, social services and Citizen’s Advice services.  Referral partners collecting requests from this dedicated space were easily able to make swaps or request extras when they arrived – seeing everything on display made it much easier for them to consider all the needs of the family, and make requests for siblings, too.

Time and time again we heard from referral partners about the relief parents expressed when they knew their children’s school needs were going to be met after all. For some families who were already facing difficult choices between buying food and paying bills, parents were saying their only other option to get school uniform would be to go deeper into debt.

“Thank you for the items of school uniform which has relieved so much anxiety for the parents on kitting their children out for the new term.”

We need your support in 2024

Requests have continued through the winter and into 2024, and now we are preparing for the busier spring-autumn period again. We are expecting to help 4,500 children with school essentials in 2024, and we’re expanding the range of items we can provide, including coats, swim kits and support for 17 and 18 year olds who need school wear or smart college wear.

School Uniform

In order to fulfil all the requests we get, we will need the support of our community and partners across Surrey.

There are lots of ways you can support the School Days campaign including;

  • Donating your pre-loved uniform. We are now accepting donations of preloved and new non-branded school uniform of any colour, PE and swim kit, and brand new backpacks and stationery. A full list of items we can accept, and how to donate, can be found here.
  • Organising a collection of uniform. Please get in touch with us if your school, PTA or community group would like to collect uniform. Email
  • Making a cash donation. This helps us to provide some of the items that need to be bought new, and to meet special requests, for example for adaptive uniform.
  • Holding a stationery donation drive. This is a great way for your school, business or community group to support the campaign. Please get in touch with if you’d like help with a poster or any more information about doing this.

If you are a professional working with families who need support with school essentials, please see our referrals page.

Stationery for School bags

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