At Stripey Stork we always try to personalise our response to specific requests. We recently received a referral from Gaynor, a Safeguarding Midwife at Royal Surrey County Hospital, with a note that the eldest teenager in the family, who identifies as non-binary, desperately needed some new clothes.
Our volunteers set to work sorting through the unisex clothing we had in stock to make just the right clothes pack for this young person. We aim to be as gender-inclusive as possible, and we receive a lot of requests for gender-neutral clothing. Thanks to the donations we receive, we usually have a good stock of clothes that could be appreciated by people of any gender, but we especially appreciate it when our referral partners communicate exactly what the young person would and wouldn’t like to wear so we can meet their needs as closely as possible. We also appreciate the input we receive from our teenage volunteers who are well-placed to advise on clothing preferences for their generation and help us put clothing packs together.
We’re pleased to report that on this occasion the pack prepared by our Team Stork volunteers really hit the spot! When the clothes pack was handed over, Mum described how it had felt like Christmas. Her teenager was so pleased with the clothes that nearly all of them are being repeatedly worn and any items which don’t quite match their taste are being passed on to their gender-neutral friends.
Mum sent her thanks: “I was overwhelmed by the choice and styles that you were able to provide. You got it so right in terms of fluid style.”
Getting it right for this teenager was especially important knowing that things had been difficult for them recently. Their Grandad had passed away, and the family had been forced to downsize to a flat when their rented house had become unaffordable due to rent increases. Because of this unplanned move, they had to rehome their family pets. These factors were having an impact on the mental health of everyone in the family, so we also included some age-appropriate self-care packs to give all the family members a pick-me-up. These were equally well-received.
Gaynor later got in touch with us to ask about making another referral for this teenager…
She told us: “They loved the clothes and haven’t stopped alternating between the different outfits. In fact, they’ve asked if it’s possible to place another order for the next size up please because they liked them so much. At first they didn’t know what to expect, but now they do, they can’t wait.”
We’re grateful for all the clothing donations we receive – those that fall into a more obvious gender category and those that don’t. We know that families appreciate both, and we’re here to give them a choice, something we know can be stripped away when experiencing poverty. This choice becomes more and more important for children as they get older, and for teenagers, the clothes they wear help them to express their identity. As an organisation that supports children right up to the age of 16, we’re committed to offering teenagers access to the right clothing for them – something they can feel confident and comfortable in so they can be themselves.