Pilgrim URC School Uniform Grant Scheme

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Pilgrim front resizedPilgrim URC received this e-mail last year from one of the School Parent Advisors they work with: 
“Finally, I have been able to take the children shoe shopping this week. The receipts are working their way to you via Royal Mail. Please can you pass on our sincerest thanks to the Elders and the Committee. I was truly touched whilst shopping with the children, many had not visited Clarks before, they were crazy over the gadgets that measured their feet, and the fact that they could choose a style of shoe and then model them!
I then couldn't resist a drink and Danish pastry treat for them, they were so excited and genuinely enjoyed the trip.
It is the simplest of things that have ensured some of our children have the correct footwear on the next stage of their education.”

Would your church like to impact young lives in a similar way? Read on to see how this got started.


The background:
For quite a few years we have had a fund of money where the capital was restricted in use but the interest could be used for general church purposes. As we all know interest rates have not been too good of late. So, in 2014 we reviewed what rates were available on investments that met our ethical and charitable status and found that by switching investments we could significantly increase our income. We then had to decide what to do with this extra money. We were already committed to a programme of charitable giving so some form of charitable use was appropriate.
Our church is on the boundary of one of the poorest areas of the city and there are five primary schools within a mile and a half of the church. We realised that some families found it quite a struggle financially to kit out their children with uniforms when they moved from primary to secondary education, so the scheme was born.
For the past two academic years we have allocated £1,000 each year from church funds to the School Uniform Grant Scheme. In the first year we were able to help 15 families. In the second year we have helped 20 families. There is clearly a need; there are 66 primary schools in Plymouth and we only cover 5.

The scheme basics:
We have tried to keep the rules of the scheme as simple as possible so that the parents can easily understand them. The primary school must be within a defined area, in our case we chose a radius of 1.5 miles from the church. There is a monetary limit for each individual grant, we use £100. The contact person for the school is the SPA (School Parent Advisor). Application forms must be submitted to a timescale and be approved by the SPA. Once the applications have been agreed by our management trustees the SPA is advised and arranges for the uniform items to be purchased, usually on the school credit card. We do not give grants direct to parents. The church then reimburses the school on production of invoices/receipts.

The future:
We believe this is a very worthwhile means of outreach to the community. Children can be unintentionally cruel to their fellow pupils over anything that sets someone apart. Not having a proper uniform, through no fault of their own, could be just what triggers a bad experience of secondary education that could mar a child’s progress.
Over the last two years our church has operated this school uniform grant scheme and we wondered if other churches in Plymouth would be interested in setting up similar schemes. If individual churches did not feel they had the resources to have their own scheme perhaps there could be some pooling of resources within areas of the city.
If any other church, or group of churches, would like to set up a scheme we are quite happy to pass on the paperwork we use. Alternatively, if there is sufficient interest ,we could set up a meeting to explain the idea further.
Contact: Pilgrim URC

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