A WINSFORD mum is giving parents across mid Cheshire a helping hand with the costs of returning to school.

Emma Ball, from Quantock Close, has set up Winsford Uniform Exchange which allows parents to donate outgrown uniforms and schools to give unclaimed lost property to other families, all for free.

The 42-year-old set up the scheme last summer after seeing how much ‘spare’ uniform she had in the family home and the amount of unclaimed clothing left at her children’s schools at the end of the year.

She has now collected thousands of items of uniform for local catchment schools, nurseries and clubs across Winsford, Middlewich and Northwich, ready to give away for free at an event at The Winsford Academy, on Grange Lane, on Tuesday, August 25.

Emma and her husband Peter have five children between them aged from eight to 18 and know only too well how the costs of buying uniform for growing children can stack up.

Emma said: “It’s very expensive to buy brand new uniforms for children, even if you only have one to buy for. The cost runs into hundreds each year.

“Branded blazers and jumpers can cost a fortune and are beyond the reach of some families, which can leave parents in a difficult situation.”

Emma said she felt some parents might be too proud to ask for help towards uniform costs or to take donations at school which is why she set up the exchange.

She said: “It can be difficult because people don’t want to feel judged. But another way to view it is that there are lots of perfectly good uniforms, shoes, bags and coats that would just end up in landfill if they weren’t passed on to someone else.”

With thousands of items donated, Emma has had to move the storage operation from her home into a space provided by The Rotary Club of Winsford and Middlewich.

She said: “They’ve been fantastic in out. They’ve given me a free storage space, and they’ve also been helping to collect the items for me.”

While the exchange provides free uniforms, families wanting to pay something forward are invited to donate on the day towards the Bone Cancer Research Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

They can also donate to Emma’s Go Fund Me page which has been set up for emergency purchases of uniform in exceptional circumstances such as domestic violence, house fires, unemployment, and universal credit delays.

Emma said: “Times are hard, especially just now, and this is a way to help other families out. My mission is to make sure that anybody within our local community, no matter what the circumstances, can get help in sourcing school uniform for their families.

“Everybody needs help at some time in their life and I will never question or judge the reason anybody asks for help.”

For more information on the exchange and the funding page visit uniformexchangewinsford.co.uk or contact Emma through her Uniform Exchange Winsford page on Facebook.