Wirral FUSS & FUPS has certainly become better known: mainly by word of mouth as we have not spent a lot on publicity. The project has become much busier mainly due to the continuing impact of austerity policies and a growing awareness of the environmental and social implications of compulsory school uniform.

In the twelve months to the end of September we have:

  • responded to 2151 requests from Wirral families ( up nearly 25% on the previous year!)
  • given away 12,848 items of clothing for re-use (up 17%)
  • waste-prevented nearly 6 Tonnes of textiles from entering landfill (up 15%)

Since the project began, back in 2012, we have now responded to well over 8500 requests from families.

Opening just two days a week, our Birkenhead Shop Hub accounts for over 60% of our activity – 1235 requests responded to just this year. A big ‘thank you’ to our stalwart team there: Pat, Allison, Chris, Margaret, Tina and her family, and other occasional helpers. All of the above has been undertaken without any substantial increase in volunteer help – we have all been working harder, but we do need more help!

Now we are six seven (again)

2019 saw a long-awaited new arrival among our Local Hubs. The project operates from the Shop Hub in Birkenhead, and well-established Hubs in local churches: St Luke’s Hoylake, Lower Bebington and Moreton Methodists, Parkgate & Neston URC, and our processing Hub in Heswall above The Beacon Café. In March this year a new Hub opened serving all 14 Primary Schools in the Wallasey area. A substantial storage and processing room has been kitted out at St Andrew’s United Church in New Brighton, contacts made with nearby schools, and drop-off and pick-up points established at St Andrew’s and at Seacombe URC. Gradually, over the summer, the word has spread and the Hub is now fully up and running – all thanks to the hard work of Reverend Lorraine, Doris, Yvonne and their team of helpers.

Fellow travellers

Enquiries about how we work have continued to come in from other parts of the country. We have corresponded with those setting up projects in Leicestershire, Luton and South Yorkshire, and most recently we have ‘mentored’ the Morecambe Bay Foodbank as they set up their own mini-version of our Uniform Shop Hub.

The end of the beginning

For quite some time it has been evident that the project aspires to work Wirral-wide and needs the support and resources to do so. At a meeting on 21st March 2019, Wirral Methodist Circuit agreed: to adopt Wirral FUSS & FUPS formally as a Circuit Project:

  • to fund, manage and support a 20 hours per week Project Coordinator, with expenses etc. for two years;
  • and to continue to fund the Shop Hub during that time. The Coordinator will be based at and resourced by the Wirral Methodist Centre in Thingwall.

This gives the project some much needed security, and a bit of breathing space. To direct this development phase, a new Management Group has been established, chaired by Reverend Helen Jobling with assistance from Pam Simms (Finance), Steve Pillow (Senior Circuit Steward) and several of our Hub volunteers. This all marks a significant turning point in the story of Wirral FUSS & FUPS so far.

The Management Group appointed Petra Dye-Davies to the new post of Project Coordinator and she began work in January 2020. We are really delighted to welcome Petra ‘on board’ again. She worked closely with the project from summer 2015 to February 2017, when she was Project Worker at Oxton Gateway, and was the instigator of our first pop-up shops which led to the establishment of the Birkenhead Shop Hub.

With the new Project Coordinator in post, Andy Kemp will continue in his development role (working rather fewer hours!), focusing on securing longer-term funding, as well as line managing the Project Coordinator.

People first and last

Apart from all those mentioned above, a very big ‘thank you’ also goes to: Alison, Ann-Marie and Susan at Hoylake; Sarah, Frank, John, Helen and Jean at Moreton; Dylys, Margaret, Andy G, Kathy, Barbara and Val at Lower Bebington; and Jenny and her helpers at Neston. We also greatly appreciate all those staff members in schools who help us through the year, and of course all those families who take the trouble to donate their children’s’ outgrown uniform! We have also received encouragement from two of our local MPs.

 An exciting and challenging time lies ahead for all of us: come and get involved! Visit our website for more information.