Northern Ireland news

School uniform swap shop event planned for south Belfast

SDLP councillor Gary McKeown pictured with Kerry Lynn, from Open Ormeau, get ready for the South Belfast Pre-Loved School Uniform Swap Shop event. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

A south Belfast school uniform swap shop event is hoping to "ease the burden" on families as the new academic term approaches.

The South Belfast Pre-Loved School Uniform Swap Shop is asking anyone with uniforms in good condition to drop them off at Ballynafeigh Community Development Association (BCDA) on the Ormeau Road from today until Friday between 10am and 4pm.

Donations can also be left at Ballynafeigh Methodist Church Hall, also on the Ormeau Road, tonight, between 7.30pm and 9pm.

On Saturday, anyone seeking school uniforms can come along to Ballynafeigh Methodist Church Hall between 11am and 3pm to pick up any items, free of charge.

SDLP councillor Gary McKeown, who has helped organise the event alongside fellow SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite, said the idea is an extension of similar work being carried out by Foodstock in west Belfast, which is run by SDLP councillor Paul Doherty.

"We became aware that our friends in Open Ormeau were thinking the same thing so we decided to join forces and create a pre-loved uniform swap shop," he said.

"There has been concerns about the cost of school uniforms for some time. With the cost of living, it has been brought into sharp focus and when you add all the different pieces together for schools, the stand-alone uniform and PE kit, we really see how it is drastically affecting families at this time of year.

"It puts people under severe financial burden. Uniforms, in principle, should be something that make everyone in school, equal. For many families, they are excluded and marginalised".

He added: "What we need are regulations in place which limit the cost of uniforms in the first place.

"We want to try and help ease the burden on people who are feeling the pinch when it comes to buying a uniform and also just encourage people to drop by. It's about the community spirit behind it".

Northern Ireland news