1528. Kate France
Kate France, from Huddersfield, launched ‘Uniform Exchange’, a scheme operating across 182 schools in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, which has collected and recycled 100,000 donations of outgrown school uniforms, and transformed these into new clothes given for free to local children in need.
Kate, a mother of three, set up the scheme in 2011, not only to help families access uniforms but to prevent clothes unnecessarily going to landfill and to save waste. In partnership with local schools, Kirklees Libraries, and with support from Kirklees Council, the charity maintains collection points across the local area, with all donations cleaned and repaired by volunteers before distribution, and any damaged items beyond repair given over to Oxfam for recycling. So far, over 7,000 packs of school uniforms have now been distributed, and this year Kate is also running a “Winter Coats” campaign to help source unwanted warm coats, hats, gloves, scarves, underwear and other items of clothing to support families over the winter who are particularly vulnerable as a result of the pandemic.
In a personal letter to Kate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“By setting up the Uniform Exchange, you have collected an astonishing 100,000 items of school uniform to be saved from landfill. This is an achievement for the environment and also for the families you help with free uniform.”
Jason McCartney, Kate’s local MP for Colne Valley, said:
“I am delighted that Kate has been recognised by the Prime Minister for the great work she has done through ‘Uniform Exchange’. The exchange is a brilliant idea, giving those who need items of school uniform the opportunity to access them, whilst also reducing waste and protecting the environment. Kate’s Points of Light Award is very well deserved and I send my warmest congratulations to her.”
“Wow, thank you… I feel truly honoured to receive a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister. It has been an absolute privilege to support the children of our local community for the past 10 years. I believe every child should have access to school uniform and that we should all recycle what we have to pass on to others. I work with an amazing group of volunteers, they are committed to the project and I’m proud of all our achievements. Our work continues all year round and we are passionately committed to supporting the most vulnerable families in Kirklees. As this winter draws near we are very aware that many families are reaching crisis level, so we are now in the process of blessing every child in need with a warm winter coat.”