THE COST of kitting out a child for the school term has been cut by volunteers at a Bordon café.

The school uniform swap shop which was introduced early this summer at Café 1759 is being extended.

Similar schemes around the country have reported a huge increase in users, with a school uniform bank in Petersfield seeing a 230 per cent rise on summer 2022.

Parents can spend between £400 and £500 a year on school uniforms according to a report by the Children’s Charity, so it makes perfect sense to reuse and recycle.

Word is getting around about the Whitehill & Bordon swap shop as the number of empty hangers on the rack is steadily increasing. And although some parents have visited out of necessity, organiser Susi Drummond believe most are checking it out because it makes financial sense.

She said: “A lot of people have said ‘this is brilliant’ because a lot of parents have all these used uniforms but nowhere else to put them.

“So they have decided they would rather donate them to us instead of throwing them away – everyone has been really positive.

“I think some feel they’ve got to bring something in order to get something but that’s not the case.”

The uniform swap shop is essentially a rack of clothing that was first reeled out on August 2. Swap sessions were due to take place every Wednesday from 10.30am to 2pm until August 23. But it’s now making nearly-daily appearances outside the café.

Susi reckons around 20 to 30 parents have benefited from the rack, with sessions now being extended until term starts because it’s been so successful.

“It’s been so helpful because some uniforms are getting quite expensive, especially at secondary school level as a blazer costs £40 a pop,” added the community development officer from Abri.

“Parents have said it’s really helpful and we’ve had a lot of generous donations because I’ve contacted all the PTAs and spread the word on social media.

“Even if you turn up and can’t find what you’re looking for it’s still worth popping along every now and then because we’re always updating.”

Uniforms from Oakmoor, Woodlea, Hollywater, Weyford, St Matthew’s, Bordon juniors and infants are available, with more like Headley possibly in the pipeline. Donations are always being accepted, with parents asked to bring their unwanted – but clean – school uniforms to Café 1759 during its opening hours.

Many parents looking for school uniforms have used the opportunity to visit the community pantry which opened last October in Chieftain House. Membership is £1 per year, with customers getting the chance to choose ten items for £3.50 or 15 for £5.

The not-for-profit café is supported by Abri and aims to reduce waste by offering food for a fraction of what it would cost at a supermarket.