Community Champion – Wortley’s Debbie Binnersley praised for her uniform exchange scheme

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by Katherine Turner

A West Leeds woman with a real commitment and passion to supporting families in her local area has been thanked for her hard work in the community.

Debbie runs the LS12 Uniform Scheme which is a free service for providing uniforms to children attending school in the LS12 area, including Armley, Farnley and Wortley.

WLD recently appealed for readers to nominate and publicly thank their ‘Community Champions’. Selfless people that “go that extra mile” to help others and don’t ask for recognition.

Debbie Binnersley is our first Community Champion and was nominated by Jo Fiddes, who volunteers alongside Debbie.

Jo told us “I nominated Debbie because of the work that she does with the LS12 Uniform Scheme. She makes a real difference in the community and set this scheme up by herself. It services children across the LS12 area.”

“She started the scheme at Whingate Primary as she was a parent and a governor. She recognised a need, not everyone that recognises a need does something about it, but Debbie did.”

A pop-up uniform collection was held at Whingate Primary in Armley

Jo told us about the hard work that Debbie puts into making this scheme a success: “She takes in the uniform and stores it, washes it and organises it all. Debbie logs it all on a spreadsheet and then publicises it to parents so that they can have free high quality uniform for their children.”

Debbie was surprised by her nomination. “I’m totally shocked to be honest. I never expected to be nominated!” she said.

“The scheme helps on so many levels. School uniform can be a significant cost each year and with many families struggling to afford the basics it was a logical step to offer pre-loved uniform, most of which still has plenty of life left in it, back into the community to help families make their money go further.

“It also stops unwanted items going in the bin and adding to the estimated 4000 tonnes of textile waste disposed of each year.

“An added bonus of the scheme is that I’ve got to make loads of new connections and met some fantastic people along the way, all while helping people.”

Some of the items donated to the clothing exchange.

Clothing waste is a real issue, according to WRAP, Waste & Resources Action Programme an estimated £140m worth of clothing is sent to UK landfill each year. Schemes such as Debbie’s can help reduce carbon, water and waste footprints, saving clothes from going to landfill, whilst also helping families to save money.

Jo said “With the cost of living crisis it’s a really important service that she provides. I know from my own work in a food bank that one of the things that pushes people into not being able to buy food is actually the cost of buying new uniform. For some people it is the difference between being able to eat or not. She never asks for recognition and does it for the good of other people and is definitely worthy of a Community Champion award.

Here’s how you can support the project:

  • Donate good quality uniform, coats, hats, gloves, scarves and wellies
  • Hold a collection at work, school or in the community
  • Volunteer to help clean and iron the uniform
  • Donate space to store and sort donations

More information can be found on the website. If you know of anyone that is in need of support Debbie encourages you to contact them via the form online.

Debbie says: “The service is totally confidential, so please don’t struggle in silence.”

To nominate a Community Champion simply drop us an e-mail at news@westleedsdispatch.com with the name of the person you would like to nominate and the reasons why. Please include your name and telephone number so that we can contact you.

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