Why it Matters to the Children of West Lothian

The School Bank makes a real difference to children

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The feedback we get shows why it matters

Time and again the feedback we receive from families and professionals shows the significant benefits of our service

The feeling of inclusion that children experience from having the appropriate school uniform and equipment at school
Improved mental health and wellbeing of the child and carer/parent
Reduced bullying and stigma of poverty
Focus on learning rather than appearance and improved school attendance

Professionals who refer children to us can provide feedback through an anonymous survey.

We ask the people who send us referrals (head teachers, social workers, family support workers, and others) what that difference really means for children and their families. They say that:

  • Providing a school uniform pack gives an immediate boost for children and families who lead extremely difficult lives.
  • Receiving new items is really valued by people who may rarely receive any new clothes or possessions

Our referrers also say that receiving a uniform pack has an important effect on children’s wellbeing:

  • Being the same as their peers is really important to children, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. Often little things such as a new school bag, having the correct stationery or even a water bottle are key to this.
  • When children have correct uniform and supplies the risk of bullying is reduced and school attendance improves.

We hear a very strong message from our referrers that the School Bank has a big impact on parents and carers:

  • Knowing that your child is adequately clothed and not having to worry about them being unhappy, bullied or not wanting to go to school because of lack of uniform, greatly reduces anxiety for parents and carers.
  • Providing uniform also relieves a burden for families who are struggling financially.

The families referred to us need help for many different reasons, such as fleeing domestic abuse, mental health issues, working poor, and homelessness. Although West Lothian has one of the largest school clothing grants in Scotland, many of the families we help are ineligible for the grant, or find that it simply doesn’t cover the cost of uniform, supplies and shoes across the school year.

Your support really does make a huge difference to children and families living in our community.

It is great that the children can have the pressure taken from them to fit in, as we know that children can be the worst critics without thinking. Having full school uniform takes away this issue and allow the children to concentrate on the important things about school such as learning.

Every child started their first day in school uniform they were smiling and felt included. One wee girl said “I have shiny black shoes like my friend.”

There are families that from the outside would not have been viewed as ‘in need’ as they stayed in not socially deprived areas, previously had good jobs and managed to keep their circumstances from those who would have otherwise helped. Reluctantly when they lost their jobs and family’s financial circumstances had changed, they applied for the clothing grant but were not successfully. When the School Bank supported this family, they were overcome with emotions as they could not comprehend their kindness and empathetic approach.

One parent told me that she couldn’t get through the year without the support. She has a part time job and has 6 children so money is tight.

For some families who live with multiple complex problems, particularly mental health issues and/or addiction, parents may not prioritise purchase of school uniform. Without the uniform packs those children would go without.