Watch: UK charity struggles to meet demand for children's shoes

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By Euronews  with AP
Watch: UK charity struggles to meet demand for children's shoes
Copyright  AP

A UK charity that donates school shoes to children around the world is receiving an increasing number of requests for help closer to home.

Sal's Shoes is struggling to cope with the demand for second-hand shoes for British children in need.

The organisation was started five years ago by CJ Bowry who says she came up with the idea of distributing second-hand shoes when she couldn't find anywhere to donate her son's pre-loved shoes.

Last year more than 300,000 pairs were donated, many barely worn. The shoes are sent to children in 43 different countries, mostly in eastern Europe, Africa and Asia but including the UK, where demand is increasing.

"Most children in the UK, certainly not all, but I think a lot, start the new academic year with a new pair of school shoes, so we started this initiative at the end of the summer term, which allows children to donate their school shoes if they are likely to outgrow them over the summer holidays," explained Bowry.

She added that the need for such a service is on the rise in the UK. "We work with lots of baby banks and organisations supporting vulnerable families and schools themselves. So we have emails from head teachers who notice pupils in their schools who are in need of a new pair of school shoes and their parents can't afford it."

Roy James is a head teacher at a school in the Welsh Valleys, one of the most deprived areas of the country. The school already sends some pupils home with food parcels.

He said: "Some children would be coming in with holes in their shoes, so we felt, hang on, we need to do something about this and try to support these children with whatever we could. Those were the obvious signs that we had to put some intervention in place to try and help these families."

Bowry added: "UK poverty levels are rising and certainly our child poverty levels. All the indicators show that's just going to increase and parents are struggling, and I think often now it is coming down to whether you can afford a new pair of shoes for your child or something else like food or paying the gas bill or the electricity bill."

Video editor • Ivan Sougy