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Why a high street shop is giving away free school uniform

Their reasons may make you dig through those wardrobes and donate your old blazer

School uniforms can undoubtedly be expensive, especially when kids sprout up mid-term after you've forked out a fortune on clothes during the summer holidays.

But a Rhondda charity shop is trying to ease the burden for struggling parents, or those whose kids have had a surprising growth spurt.

The Friends of the Rhondda Rotary Community Shop in Treorchy take in donations of unwanted school uniform and give them away for free.

And earlier this week shop co-ordinator Jan Ellis wrote a passionate and heartfelt post on Facebook explaining why the shop gives the uniforms away for free, and encouraged more people to drop off their old uniforms.

She wrote: "So many families in work poverty, imagine your son growing six inches in a term, or needing new shoes, or your daughter gaining a bust and growing out of her blouse.. imagine your son's shirt ruined by the spoilt brat on the bus who covered it in nail varnish, bright pink.."

She went on to say: "Imagine the cost of replacements on top of other bills, replacements you can only get at selected shops. That's why we don't charge."

Jan, who has worked at the shop since it opened five years ago, told us the shop raises money for the Rhondda community and takes in unwanted items like bras and prescription glasses.

And since the social media post on Monday, July 23, the shop has had between 30 and 40 drop-offs of unwanted uniform.

Jan said: "People seem to have really picked up on the post and we've had quite a lot of donations.

"We've always given away free uniforms because imagine buying brand new uniform for September, then by the end of October your child has shot up six inches.

"There are cheap school clothes in Lidl and other supermarkets, but for secondary school they have to buy the uniform from a specific shop.

"Many people who are given money to spend towards uniform also have to get it from a specific shop which are often not the cheapest nor the best. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's very restrictive when you have an 11-year-old who is growing."

"I have had parents come in the shop whose kids have been told off by the school for not having the right shoes or coat," Jan said.

People on the Facebook page have since applauded the shop's stance.

Gillian Sealey wrote: "Such a good idea! I remember buying my son’s shoes in August and by the start of term they were too small! He finished school with size 11."

Cherrill Rees said: "Well done you. Fantastic idea, and what a help for parents struggling to get their children the right uniform. I hope heads of relevant schools see this."

The shop has all sorts of school uniform including PE kits, school dresses, and coats.

"Uniform is meant to make it a level playing field," said Jan. "But if you can't afford that how is that fair and we want to stop that."

You can lend your support to Friends of the Rhondda Rotary Community Shop via their Facebook page , or visit them at 208 High Street, Treorchy.


Progress report – Tonypandy Town Centre major improvements

The Council’s major ongoing improvements at Tonypandy Town Centre are making good progress – and the overall scheme is on course for completion in autumn 2018, as planned.

The significant works in Tonypandy, for the benefit of local businesses and visitors to the town, began in June 2018. The scheme will see the pedestrian-only zone at Dunraven Street revoked, to allow through traffic in a northerly direction only. Works include construction of new footways, traffic calming features, pedestrian crossing points, street furniture and parking bays.

The scheme will transform the town centre landscape, and the removal of the pedestrianised area will encourage greater passing trade for businesses. The works were generally well-received by traders when announced last year, and the Council has now provided a progress report for the ongoing works.

The works are split into four phases – each representing a section of Dunraven Street. Phases one and two are currently underway, and making good progress. Phase one starts at the traffic lights at Gelli Road, and continues in a northern direction for around 50m, ending near Lloyds Bank. Phase Two resumes where phase one stops, ending just north of Principality.

Phase one is now reaching its final stages, with the completion of carriageway excavation, kerbing works and binder course surfacing. The final carriageway surfacing will be completed at the end of the wider scheme, across the whole of the work area in Dunraven Street. All works in phase one (aside from the final surfacing) are scheduled for completion in August – including electrical installation, street lighting, traffic signal installation and BT works.

Phase two is also well underway. To ensure efficient use of time, street lighting installation and utilities works in phases two and three are taking place at the same time. This will allow the existing street lighting columns, located where the new carriageway will be, to be removed. Excavation and drainage installation in phase two has also commenced.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways, said: “I’m delighted that the works in Tonypandy are making good progress, and are on course to be completed in autumn 2018 as initially planned. Visitors to the town centre will have seen lots of activity ongoing, and it is positive news that the first two phases of the overall scheme are progressing so well – in what is one of the Council’s biggest projects to be delivered during 2018/19.

“Improving the Council’s Highways is a priority area of investment through #RCTinvest – and future-proofing the network through our town centres is no different. The Tonypandy scheme is outlined in the £23.6m Highways Capital Programme for 2018/19, which follows more than £20m of investment in Highways and Transportation schemes during 2017/18.

“I’d like to thank Tonypandy Town Centre businesses and visitors for their continued cooperation during the works, which will inevitably cause some disruption. However, the scheme will deliver long-term improvements to the Town Centre, for the local community to enjoy and benefit from.”

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “This exciting project in Tonypandy will deliver major improvements for Town Centre businesses and visitors for many years to come. The project conforms to the Council’s Corporate Plan ‘The Way Ahead’ – which states that our town centres require further investment to ensure we create more vibrant and enticing Retail Areas.

“There are also a number of other initiatives ongoing in Tonypandy, including the recent announcement that significant Welsh Government funding has been secured towards a £120,000 scheme to renovate Tonypandy Library, following a refurbishment to the building’s exterior last year.

“Cabinet has also recently agreed to extend the Town Centre Maintenance Grant in Tonypandy, which allows businesses and landlords to apply for funding to improve their property fronts. It has proven very popular since it launched in October 2017, with 32 Tonypandy businesses taking it up so far.

“These initiatives, along with free parking introduced last year, are all contributing to improving Tonypandy Town Centre’s economic activity.”

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