For schoolchildren, the giddy excitement of the summer holidays is almost here for another year. We all remember these long, sunny weeks (in our recollections at least) that have taken on an almost mythical quality in popular culture.
However, for some parents, the impending summer holiday will bring less joy. If money is tight, summer holidays can bring serious financial anxiety – and one thing children and parents’ experiences of summer holidays have in common is a dread of the ‘back to school’ signs in shops.
The cost of school uniforms, stationery, books and PE kits all quickly adds up, especially if parents have more than one child in school. This can have a profound effect on a child’s wellbeing and education.
That’s why the Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT) is committed to helping parents get their children school-ready for the upcoming academic year. FTCT is a grant-giving charity that supports fashion and textiles families where one parent or primary carer for a child has worked for one year within fashion and textiles for the past nine years.
One mum who was finding it difficult to afford school uniforms for her children was Alison*, a self-employed handbag designer. Her son Ben has Type 1 diabetes, which means Alison has less time to dedicate to her business and puts pressure on household budgets. When it came to buying school clothes for Ben and his sister Olivia for school, Alison was finding there was no money left after she’d paid for other essentials. At first, she was reluctant to apply for help, but soon realised something needed to be done.
“There was definitely an aspect of wanting to keep up appearances and not wanting to admit, even to ourselves, how bad things had got. But eventually, we did accept that we needed help just to get out of the situation we were in because it had become impossible to carry on as we were. The kids were always going to school in old clothes because we couldn’t afford anything new.”
After finding out about FTCT on the Turn2Us website, Alison made an enquiry and discovered the charity was able to help her with clothing and footwear for both her children – as well as a new bed for Ben. Ben is now able to get a better night’s sleep and turn up to school refreshed and ready to learn. Olivia is also feeling the benefits and her confidence has soared since buying the new items.
“To be able to take them shopping for new clothes for school, knowing that they could choose what they wanted and we could buy it for them, felt amazing. Olivia is so proud she’s always laying out her new clothes on the bed the night before wearing them to school. We’ve even had a little fashion show with the kids in their new outfits! It’s made such a difference.”
FTCT doesn’t just support families where one or more children have a medical condition like Ben. Sometimes, parents just need a helping hand to bridge a gap in income and pay for essential items for their children. Whether it’s school uniforms, a child’s bed or bedding, white goods, sensory equipment or more, FTCT is determined to support fashion and textiles families however they can.
If you would like to know more, you can visit the FTCT website here: www.ftct.org.uk
Or give their friendly Grants team a ring on 0300 123 9002.
*All names have been changed at the family’s request