A British charity that collects pre-owned school shoes and donates them to children all over the world is receiving a rising number of requests for assistance from people closer to home. Sal’s Shoes is having difficulty coping with demand for pre-owned shoes from UK kids that are in need. Sal’s Shoes began operating five years ago and was started by CJ Bowry who had the idea of redistributing pre-owned shoes after she learned there was nowhere to donate her son’s pre-owned shoes.
Distributing across 43 countries
Sal’s Shoes received more than 300,000 pairs of donated pre-owned shoes and many of those pairs had hardly been worn. The charity redistributed those shoes to children in 43 different countries, mainly in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. However, what has been found is demand from the UK is also increasing.
Starting each year with a new pair of shoes
Ms Bowry explains that many children in the UK start the new academic year with a brand-new pair of school shoes, so the initiative was started at the end of the summer term and allows kids to donate their school shoes if they think they will outgrow them over the summer holiday season. Ms Bowry adds the need for this type of service in the UK is increasing. Her organisation works with many baby banks and other organisations that support vulnerable families as well as the schools themselves.
Sal’s shoes receives emails from teachers who notice students at their schools in need of a new pair of school shoes and are aware their parents cannot afford it. Roy James who is the head teacher of a school located in the Welsh Valleys, one of the UK’s most deprived areas and whose school already sends some students home with food parcels says some children come into school with holes in their shoes.
Inequality continues to rise
Mr James said his school felt the need to do something about it and seek to support the students in whichever way they can. Children with holes in their shoes are an obvious sign that some intervention was necessary to try and help the families. Ms Bowry concludes that poverty levels in the UK are rising as are child poverty levels. All the indicators suggest poverty levels will continues to increase. Ms Bowry says she thinks of is as parents having to decide whether they can afford a new pair of shoes or paying for food, gas or the electricity bill.