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Liverpool businesswoman buys school uniforms to help struggling families

2 years ago

Liverpool businesswoman buys school uniforms to help struggling families

Liverpool businesswoman Kate Stewart has bought more than 100 school uniforms to help struggling families faced with the expense of kitting out their children for the new term.

And she’s appealing to other successful entrepreneurs in the city to do the same, and take some of the pressure off parents.

Kate, who owns the Sandon Hotel complex, wanted to support mums and dads who are worried about how they’ll afford to dress their kids in the cost of living crisis.

She explains: “A friend of mine who works in a school was telling me about the school having to go out and buy uniforms for some kids because they were so bad and they didn’t want to embarrass their parents.

“When my eldest daughter who’s now 22 was about four I remember having to lend the money to go and get her uniform and pay it back weekly. It made me think parents must be pulling their hair out now with all the added costs there are at the moment.

“I know there’ll be mums and dads out there who are panicking about the schools going back in September and how they’re going to afford the uniform on top of everything else. People are being taken to court for not paying bills, how are they supposed to afford school uniforms?

“I thought, I’m in a position to help people so I phoned the ward councillor for Anfield where The Sandon’s based, Billy Marrat, and asked him, what can I do?”

After discussing what was needed most, Kate said she would buy 120 full school uniforms – 60 for girls and 60 for boys – and drop them off for him to give out to families.

“I just went online and got them delivered, it took about 20 minutes and it couldn’t have been easier. I bought for age 6 to age 11, so I split them across the whole of infants and juniors.

“By giving them to the councillor it means he can distribute them as opposed to someone coming here and saying, ‘Kate can I have a uniform?’ because I understand that pride is a massive thing.

“People don’t always want to ask for help so that’s why I decided to do it this way. The ward councillor knows exactly who needs the help, parents can go and approach him directly and it’s more private for them.

“Everyone needs help at some point in their life, so no-one should feel ashamed to ask for it, it’s all for our kids.”

Kate, who has four children – a daughter aged 22, twin boys aged seven and a six-year-old daughter – says she’s a supporter of the idea of school uniforms, but believes the system need to change with the times.

“I don’t think the answer is to scrap uniforms because then there’s more of a chance of bullying if what they wear isn’t designer. Uniforms were brought in to try and get rid of that and make everyone the same, but I do think the schools are going to have to realise that we are in a crisis right now and people just haven’t got the money.

“Emblems and crests on school uniforms need to go because it’s just not cost-effective for parents to buy them; the kids lose them or ruin them and you don’t get more than a year out of them. Let the kids wear grey pants, a white shirt or polo shirt and a jumper, all the same and all more affordable.”

She now hopes other people will do the same and help make the next few weeks less stressful for parents.

“Parents do want their kids to go back to school wearing a new uniform like other kids, they don’t want them to stick out like a sore thumb. Every child should be happy going back to school no matter what income their mum and dad have or what their home life is like, and not thinking, I’ve got a hole in my pants from last year.

“Liverpool is full of successful entrepreneurs, so if we all do our bit and we pull together we can sort our own problems out and make sure the kids of this city all go back to school with a new uniform on.”

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