CONSCIOUS of the costs of purchasing school uniforms gave Dawn Coleman an idea she was keen to pursue.

It is almost a year since Dawn set up the Shipley Area School Uniform Bank and demand is growing.... so much so she is now launching a Pop-up Shop.

Dawn soon realised after setting up the facility - which recycles uniforms from more than 20 schools in Shipley, Baildon, Windhill and Wrose through five sites including local churches, - that many more families could be missing out.

“We don’t have a criteria, they don’t have to be on benefits, it is wide ranging,” says Dawn.

“You can be working and still not have a lot, especially with the cost of uniforms now.”

Families can be referred through organisations working with families such as schools, community centres, religious organisations, health visitors and family support services, but Dawn is concerned some may not be accessing the facility as they may be too proud - even though the referral system is confidential - or don’t want the uniform for free and feel they would like to make a contribution.

This gave Dawn the idea to launch the pop-up shop where people can pay what they can afford and proceeds can go back into running the uniform bank.

“We think we are missing people who are too proud to fill the form in and will pay a little bit,” she explains.

“We need to get a lot more people to say they need it.”

Dawn is running the pop-up shops from 5 until 8pm on Tuesday April 23 and from 9.30am until 2pm on Wednesday April 24 at Shipley Salvation Army, Rhodes Place, Shipley, and is hopeful they will be become more regular.

“Some people are too proud, they worry that they are looking like they are wanting something for free but it’s not about that,” says Dawn, adding that it is also enabling uniforms to be recycled and put to good use.

No-one knows what circumstances may arise - Dawn says often it can be a situation where families can be working, they lose their job and that week their child has a hole in their shoe.

“A lot of people swap uniform so I thought what if I could get it all together and give it to people who needed it,” says Dawn, who appreciates the cost of buying school uniforms.

Having three children of her own, Dawn is also used to recycling school uniforms between her own children.

Recalling when they initially set up the school uniform bank, she says: “We got so much,” she says.

The clothing is collected by volunteers, quality checked and washed ready to be recycled. They also recycle shoes - they don’t take tights, socks or underwear but she says some donation bags have included packs of new tights and even brand new school shirts.

“We are overwhelmed with not only the amount of donations we have received so far, but also the amount of positive support from the local community since we set up last year,” says Dawn.

“This continuing support has already helped us support many local families with the extensive cost of school uniform and supplies, and hopefully many more to come in the future.”

Denise Baxter, headteacher of Wycliffe CE Primary School, Saltaire, says: “Dawn is very aware that many local families are struggling with financial hardship and approached us in regard to supporting this cause.

“We were pleased to promote the initiative of the uniform bank via our weekly newsletter and have since sent lost property their way and signposted families to their contact details as one of our ways of helping them, should they seek our support.

“Alongside the financial implications we also feel that we are supporting a more sustainable environment as items that may once have been discarded are now being re-used.”

Richard Foster, deputy headteacher of Titus Salt School, who support the Shipley Area School Uniform Bank, says: “We are very pleased to support the Shipley Area School Uniform Bank.

“It is a great initiative which helps and supports our parents as well as others in the local community.

“It offers a cost effective way to purchase items and it is another way to ensure uniform, that may be in near perfect condition, can be used again to benefit others.

“The pop-up events that they intend holding are a welcome addition to the great service these volunteers are already providing to the district.”

Major Mike Harris, Corps officer of the Shipley Salvation Army which is hosting the pop-up shop, says: “The Salvation Army has been involved in supporting lots of things over the years. It is always at the heart for the needy.”

Major Harris says they have seen the growth in food banks over the years and the school uniform bank is another practical way of helping people.

“Costs can be phenomenal and it is a way of helping those who need it - a practical way of offering them help so we are very pleased to be able to back up the uniform bank.”

He says he also hopes it will help raise to the profile of the initiative and remove the stigma often associated with seeking help.

“Because there is a stigma of accepting help as well it normalises it and people are less likely to be worried about asking for help,” says Major Harris.

To find out more about the Shipley Area School Uniform Bank pop-up shop, or to get involved, visit