KNOWN as the ‘Gathering Place’, the charity is a community-driven initiative that provides essential items where people can take or swap items for free. People can select up to five free items per week, which includes children’s school uniform, adult clothing, toys, books, clothing, nappies, and other essential items.
Neath Port Talbot Council has helped to support this scheme with its dedicated Team Around the Family and practice support workers joining forces with the Gathering Place to enhance the services available to families. Furthermore, the team established a school uniform bank at the Gathering Place that encourages parents to reuse and donate school uniform. It not only helps to protect the environment by reducing the reducing the number of uniforms sent to waste, but it reduces the burden on parents to buy brand new uniform.
This initiative has been set up alongside existing help and support that the council already has in place to support residents during the cost of living crisis. The council’s ‘Help with the cost of living’ (www.npt.gov.uk/costoflivinghelp) campaign signposts people to things such as help with money and debt, claiming benefits, household bills, school costs, childcare and finding work.
Additionally, the Gathering Place provides seating areas where families and individuals can enjoy tea or coffee while getting the chance to meet with other people within the local community. They also host various groups to support new parents and education classes.
Councillor Sian Harris, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Children & Family Services, expressed her enthusiasm for this collaboration, stating, “In times of hardship, it’s crucial that we come together as a community to support those who may be struggling.
“Our partnership with the ‘Gathering Place’ is a testament to our commitment to local families and the wider community.
“In particular, the school uniform bank manages to address two main issues: the cost of new uniforms and helping the environment. It is an important way of encouraging families to reuse uniform and save money whilst also protecting the environment by not letting them end up in landfill.”
The Gathering Place is located at 18 Queen Street, Neath (SA11 1DL), and is open to residents on Mondays 9am to 1pm, Wednesdays 12am to 4pm, and Fridays 1pm to 4pm.