The cost of living crisis is impacting families across Northern Ireland. Rising costs for food, fuel, and other essentials means many are facing impossible choices. Local charities are stepping up to help alleviate pressures where they can. Initiatives like the ROC Winter Coat Project and School Uniform Project are making a real difference for hundreds of families.

The Winter Coat Project has been collecting and distributing warm coats, hats, scarves, and gloves for over five years now. As one recipient said, “These coats, hats, scarves and gloves have all go on to a brand new home.” The generosity of the community makes this project possible. As organizers expressed, “Without your generosity we wouldn’t be able to help so many families in this practical way.”

Similarly, the School Uniform Project has helped outfit students for the new academic year since 2019. In 2022 they supported over 500 children across four locations. Considering the strain on budgets, they expect demand to be even higher in 2023 with five planned projects. With average costs of £173 for primary and £378 for secondary school, uniforms are a significant expense. The School Uniform Project allows families to get what they need for free.

One mother of five was deeply relieved, saying the project had “saved me a small fortune.” Volunteers find it gratifying to lift this burden, seeing the relief on parents’ faces. As one remarked, “When people left with uniforms it was lovely to see the relief on parents faces, knowing that in the current financial climate a uniform was one less thing for them to worry about.”

In the face of economic challenges, local efforts like these make an immense difference. Over the 2022-2023 winter season, the Winter Coat Project gave out over 3,000 coats across 14 locations. Generous donations and community teamwork is changing lives. As organizers said, “Thank you to all those who have been involved in our Winter Coat Projects this year! Across our 9 project locations this year we managed to give away 2,000 coats and we definitely couldn’t have done it without the generosity of those who donated!”