3rd Jul, 2022

Coventry Boot Fund sees 'deluge' of appeals from families for kids' shoes in new school term

John Carlon 2nd Oct, 2020 Updated: 2nd Oct, 2020

HISTORIC Coventry charity the Children’s Boot Fund is seeing one of its busiest ever years, with a ‘deluge of appeals’ from families in need of youngsters’ school shoes.

The Boot Fund, formed in 1894, is one of the few school shoe charities remaining in the UK.

Though over a century in existence, the Children’s Boot Fund says 2020 is one of its most challenging yet, with over half its annual shoe vouchers assigned only in September.

The coronavirus school closure has ‘split the year in two’, according to treasurer Martin Harban.

“Right up to the lockdown on March 23 we were operating normally, but with the schools closing, appeals for new school shoes ceased and donations dried up completely.

“Up to the March lockdown we had received nearly 400 appeals and although schools were closed, we know that children’s feet keep growing and their shoes became worn out with all the outdoor activity in what was a glorious springtime. We have prepared for a deluge of appeals when school reopened.

“Ahead of the new school term we had 160 shoe vouchers waiting to be redeemed and when schools reopened we agreed a further 127 vouchers to enable families in difficulties to send their children to school with good properly fitting new school shoes.

“This is already over half the vouchers we would expect to approve in a full year.”

As seen across the charity sector, the coronavirus lockdown has hammered regular donations. Mr Harban said this term’s shoe vouchers will come to £13,000 – “dramatically depleting the fund’s modest reserves.”

He added: “This amount will dramatically and severely test our resolve to give assistance by need rather than be influenced by financial constraint, which is why we aim to keep adequate reserves.”

Children in need of school shoes in Coventry are referred to the Children’s Boot Fund by their schools, typically when a concerned teacher has seen shoes are ill-fitting or worn out.

Families receive a voucher to visit a Coventry shoeshop, where children benefit from a professional foot measure service and discounted Clarks shoes.

The charity states ‘with new replacement school shoes for those needy children we can substantially increase the wellbeing of a child, improve school attendance, alleviate low self-esteem and bullying and improve the life chances of those children most in need.

“The majority of appeals are from single parent families, homeless families living in bedsits or hotel accommodation, grandparents bringing up grandchildren or families that are experiencing sudden unemployment or life changing illness.”

Donations or request for information regarding The Coventry Children’s Boot Fund can be sent to Mr Harban at PO Box 3124 Kenilworth CV8 9ZW.

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