A British charity that distributes second-hand shoes to children in need around the world says it is increasingly receiving requests for donations from schools in the United Kingdom.
Sal’s Shoes said it is being asked to support more people nationally, especially children at the start of the school term.
The organisation was started by CJ Bowry who said she came up with the idea of distributing second-hand shoes when she could not find anyone that could tell her where her son’s pre-loved shoes would go if she donated them.
The charity was set up five years ago. Back then 5,000 pairs were sent in from across the UK.
Last year – there were more than 300,000 pairs donated – many barely worn. The shoes are sent to children in 43 different countries, but increasingly the footwear is being required closer to home.
“We started this initiative at the end of the summer term, which allows children in the UK to donate their school shoes if they are likely to outgrow them … and we get them back into education somewhere else – increasingly within the UK.
“So, we have emails from headteachers who notice pupils in their schools who are in need of a new pair of school shoes and their parents can’t afford it,” said Bowry.
Roy James is a headteacher at a school in the Welsh Valleys – one of the most deprived areas in Wales. The school already sends food parcels home with some pupils and with the help of Sal’s Shoes now provides footwear to children most in need.
“If I’m honest with you some children would be coming in, for example, with holes in their shoes and would be coming in where the heels would literally be scraping off the show, so we felt hang on we need to do something about this and try to support these children with whatever we could,” said James.
Bowry said UK poverty levels are rising and schoolchildren will be affected.
“I think often now it is coming down to whether you can afford a new pair of shoes for your child or something else like food or paying the gas bill or the electricity bill,” said Bowry.
Most of the shoes will travel to children in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, but increasingly they are staying in the UK – one of the richest nations in the world – sent to families struggling to afford everyday essentials.