Uniforms, food and community spirit: How one Northampton primary school has helped families during holidays

A primary school in Northampton has been going above and beyond to show parents they can still get support during the summer holidays.

Staff from St James C of E Primary School in Harlestone Road have given up their time during the six-week holiday to contact companies and acquire donations to lend families a helping hand.

From tinned goods and kitchen essentials, to uniforms and stationary the school opened two mornings a week for parents to visit and help themselves to whatever they needed.

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St James has opened during the holidays to invite parents in to help themselves to what they need.

During lockdown, staff also delivered food packages to families, which has all contributed to the community spirit the school hopes is at the centre of their ethos.

Head teacher, Sarah Beach, said: “We’d been doing a lot of home deliveries for more vulnerable families anyway and then we had a couple of donation offers.

“So we decided to phone around more companies to get more donations.

“When we’d got more we opened the school up and invited parents in for a kitchen cupboard stock up.

The school even managed to acquire uniform from Tesco.

“We continued to do that throughout the holidays.”

During the six weeks, the school managed to secure uniform essentials like skirts and trousers from Tesco, as well as stationary from Dunelm and craft supplies and drinks from Riverside Hub.

Supermarkets such as Aldi, Co-op and Iceland all also donated pasta, cereals, sauces and loads more non-perishable goods.

Sarah added: “We’ve been quite pro-active in trying to help more vulnerable families through the summer and it has been really well received both from the point of view of us helping parents out as well as giving them an opportunity to come and say hello and touch base.

Parents were grateful for the helping hand.

“It was important to do because we do have families who are struggling from a practical perspective, but it was also important to let parents know that we are still there for them as a community and that we haven’t left them on their own.

“It’s been lonely for some families, especially if they are shielding or their children weren’t in the year groups that came back, so it was a good point of contact.

“We have to remind parents that we are here for them and we care for the whole family, not just the children.”

As the start of term looms and staff look forward to welcoming children back, the collection stations are closing as children begin to receive school meals once again.

However, the school will continue to participate in the Magic Breakfast scheme, where children can get a bagel on the way into school should they wish to.

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