Advice NI supports local community school uniforms initiatives to ease the financial burden on families

Advice NI encourages families to take advantage of local School Uniform Swops.

This summer, community organisations across Northern Ireland are helping to reduce the costs for families with a school uniform exchange. Families have the opportunity to drop off pre-loved uniform items that no longer fit or are in use. These items will then be available to families - usually for free – just in time for the new school year.
As September approaches, parents across Northern Ireland will be turning their attention to the ever-increasing costs of education, and school uniforms in particular.
In 2017 the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland (NICCY) published a report stating that the average cost of a school uniform in Northern Ireland is £109 per child with yearly education costs well over £1,200 a year. Last year a survey conducted by the Irish League of Credit Unions found that more than a third of families in Northern Ireland go into debt at the beginning of the new school year because of the rising costs. School uniform grants are available from the Education Authority to families in receipt of Universal Credit or certain benefits but at best these grants will cover only a fraction of the cost of the typical school uniform here.
With the dual threats of a no-deal Brexit in October and the Welfare Reform Mitigations Cliffedge, when funding for Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland comes to an end in April next year , Northern Ireland finds itself in a period of economic instability. During times such as this, low-income families and households will struggle to make ends meet considerably more than others. Many families turn to expensive payday loans or doorstep lenders for loans that they ultimately can’t afford to pay back.
Bob Stronge, Chief Executive of Advice NI said
“We know that the sudden costs of the new school year can force families into debt. The provision of pre-loved school uniforms by community organisations should go some way to helping families struggling with these costs.
Avoiding the debt spiral can be a real concern but we advise everyone not to use high interest lenders. Advice NI offers free, impartial debt advice and that includes advice on how to avoid debt as well as how to get out of it.
We find many working families think they are not entitled to any help as they are in work. We can offer a free & confidential benefit entitlement check to include advice on Tax Credits, Child Benefit, and childcare costs.”
Sinéad Campbell,  Advice NI’s Head of Money, Debt and Quality said:
“Many families will use credit to cover the costs of children going to school. Then they have the expense of Christmas, which will only compound the financial issue further for parents. These uniform swop shops are a fantastic way to cut some of the expenses and we would encourage people to avail of the support that is available in their local community.
Schools should work in collaboration to promote these schemes widely to parents. It is important to remember that often children will need more than one of each item of clothing.
We would also call on the schools to do more around the extra, hidden costs of education.”

See below for a list of drop-off points for pre-loved uniforms:


The Whiterock Children's Centre in West Belfast
91 Whiterock Road, BT12 7PG

East Belfast Independent Advice Centre (EBIAC) 
55 Templemore Avenue, BT5 4FP

Ardoyne Association
111 Etna Drive, BT14 7NN

Ardoyne Youth Enterprise
11a Flax Street, BT14 7EJ

Ashton Centre
5 Churchill Street, BT15 2BP

Marrowbone Community Association
253-255 Oldpark Road, BT14 6QR

The Houben Centre
432 Crumlin Rd, BT14 7TF

Ligoniel Improvement Association
148 Ligoniel Road, BT14 8DT

There will be a pop-up swap shop will be open from August 12th – 16th at the Flax Centre in Ardoyne


Shantallow Community Centre
38 Drumleck Drive, BT48 8EN
Glen Community Centre
Cedar Street, BT48 0EG
Rathmór Shopping Centre 
Bligh's Lane, Creggan, BT48 0LZ
Healthy Living Centre/Old Library Centre
Central Drive, BT48 9QG
Northside Shopping Centre
Glengalliagh Road, BT48 8NN
South Medicine Therapies
2 Chapel Road, BT47 2AN
Eglinton Variety Store
14a Main Street, Dungiven, BT47 3PQ
Gary Middleton MLA Office
1st Floor, Waterside Centre, 23 Glendermott Road, BT47 6BG
Karen Mullan MLA Office
Rathmór Business Park, Bligh's Lane, Creggan, BT48 0LZ
Mark Durkan MLA Office 
141H Strand Road, BT48 7PB

Notes to Editors
  1. For further information contact  Kerry McKittrick, Advice NI Communications Officer, 1 Rushfield Avenue, Belfast BT7 3FP  Tel: (028) 9064 5919
  2. Advice NI has over 60 member organisations operating throughout Northern Ireland who provided advice, information and advocacy services for 215,678 enquiries last year on an extensive range of matters including social security, housing, debt, consumer and employment issues.
  3. If you would like to find out more visit our website