As the new term fast approaches, the excitement of a September start is not shared by everyone.

When the new school term starts, there are mixed emotions for both parents and children. Children are excited to see their friends once again and ready to exchange stories of their summer holidays. And even more so this September, having endured months of separation, facing uncertainty as to when they will be reunited. Parents watch as their children enter a new year, in awe of how quickly their child is growing up. Some may be apprehensive, with concerns about COVID-19 still in the air, and especially if transitioning from primary to secondary; however, they too are excited to see their child grow and prosper and get back on track after months away from the classroom.  

To prep our children for the new school term, we spend the last few weeks of the summer holiday rushing to get last minute items.   As children outgrow their school uniforms, we buy them new ones, with matching shoes and far too much stationery. The night before, we make sure everything is ironed and ready, for the morning ahead. Children may be too excited to sleep, tossing and turning in bed awaiting the big day ahead.

This is the scenario that plays out in many of our homes. However, there is a different side which we are often unaware of. Not every family is able to prep the way we do.  

Children within HHUGS households are among those children.   Their mothers, unable to afford school uniforms for their children. Children, already on the fringes of society. They are isolated and already struggling to cope with the trauma they have experienced in their young life, looking for an outlet to help bring light into their lives. However, school is not able to offer them the respite they crave, as they are forced to feel different when they stand out among their peers, for not having the correct uniform.

“More than one in ten parents report having got into debt as a result of uniform costs.” (Opinium Research, 2018)

Many families, more so than ever, face uncertainty and financial hardship. With the loss of jobs, parents are struggling to cover the essential, but often hidden, costs of school, further spiraling them into debt. The Children’s Society in 2018 found the average total cost of uniform was £256 per primary school child and £338 per secondary school pupil, with that figure rising annually with inflation. A return to the classroom then is a source of great anxiety for the mothers HHUGS support.

Not having the correct uniform can also result in bullying, which has a detrimental impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being.  

“We know that children whose parents cannot afford the cost of specialist uniforms face punishment and bullying for not having exactly the right clothes or kit.” (Lily Caprani, Director of Policy and Strategy, The Children’s Society)

HHUGS children are already at risk of bullying and isolation as they are shunned from their local communities. They often lose their close friends and family due to their family situation, leaving them vulnerable. 

“The police took our brothers to school in a police car so everyone found out about the arrest. I was too upset to go to school at the time. I remember in Year 7, a girl came up to me when she found out whose daughter I was and told me that her dad said not to speak to me. Then she told all the other girls at school not to speak to me either.”

With the odds against them, children from HHUGS households are already anxious of feeling like the odd one out.  Not having the correct uniform further exacerbates a fragile situation. This can also have a detrimental impact on their education and schooling.

But your support in the past two years, through the HHUGS Back to School campaign, has helped these mothers and eased their burden.

“I just wanted to let you know that the support I have received for the school uniform was very helpful. I was stressing beforehand how I was going to buy them their uniforms as I’m a single parent on very low income and was just released from prison. Thank you so much, HHUGS, for your help and support.”

By providing these children with correct uniform, you are ensuring they get to start the term feeling confident.  By providing them with essential stationery and textbooks you enabling to participate in school as the items you gift are essential for their education.

Although we may often overlook the necessity for school uniform or stationery, they play a huge role within a child’s life. By making them feel confident within themselves, they can focus solely on their education and enjoy the journey of their school years.

By contributing towards the Back to School campaign, you are supporting the education of children within HHUGS households; children whom are given an opportunity to strive and feel happiness once again. 

“In serving the best interests of children, we serve the best interests of all humanity.” (Carol Bellamy)

By enabling them to continue their studies, you are paving a way in which they can turn their life around, and proceed on a fruitful path. Many of these children struggle to find guidance and stability due to the absence of a parent.

“Children of prisoners three times more at risk than their peers of committing anti-social or delinquent behaviour”

They experience trauma during their most important schooling years, impacting their education detrimentally.  This can have a lasting impact on their future.

“My father’s arrest impacted my education so that I actually failed my GCSEs…I failed everything.”

Turn things around for these children.  Help them stand tall on the first day of term by providing them with essential school uniform and essential stationery. 

Earn His pleasure by being merciful to children who are growing up without a father.

“Be merciful with the orphan, pat his head and feed him from what you eat. This will soften your heart, and enable you to get what you need.” (at-Tabarani)

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to contribute to the HHUGS Back to School campaign. Help ensure children stand tall at the start of term by donating here.