'We've had parents in tears' - The church fighting school uniform poverty
- Credit: Mick Howes
A town's church group is offering a lifeline service to parents on the frontline of the cost of living crisis by offering them access to school uniform.
As costs for families soar across the board, Reverend Rich Henderson of Beccles is working with Fran Tuck of St Luke's Church to set up a uniform bank where members of the public can donate old clothes and the church will wash, repair and iron them.
The church will also be preparing free packed lunches for families during the summer holidays to tackle food poverty.
St Luke's Church is a distribution centre for Waveney Foodbank every Monday and Friday. It has seen an increase in usage during Covid and over this year, and Fran runs a pantry pop up shop which runs every Saturday morning.
Revd Henderson said: "We've always been a parish to meet the needs of the people locally.
"The demand has increased and it is impacting working people.
"For example - I had a guy turn up a few weeks ago with a full-time job and the increase in energy prices has made it impossible for them to manage as a family.
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"This is just one example of people working who need help and we are certainly seeing more of it."
When asked what can be done to tackle the ongoing crisis, Revd Henderson said: "That is a very interesting question.
"We try to work with as many people as we can in order to meet the needs of individuals and families.
"In terms of the uniform bank, uniform is so expensive each year, often in excess of £100 per child.
"We try and be an eco church and recycle this as much as possible.
"We've had parents in tears in the past when we have run the uniform bank because when you have three or four children all needing new uniform it is such a huge expense.
"If we can alleviate this burden for families any way we can then we will do so.
"Collectively we are trying to help families save money and help them manage day-to-day.
"We are often asked what people can do to support us.
"If people can donate food or money to the pantry or food bank all of this helps those in need."