A SCHOOL-BASED shop which doesn’t charge a penny is making a real difference to families in the Alloa Academy community.

The pre-loved shop provides washed and ironed pre-loved and new school uniform items, as well as stationery and toiletries, to anyone who needs them – completely free of charge.

And, in the first two days of the new term last month, more than 500 items, including polo shirts, hoodies, school jumpers, skirts, trousers, tights, blazers, jackets and shoes were issued to young people and families.

The shop was set up last year by Sharon Cummings, engagement and wellbeing support officer for the school and its cluster primaries, with funding from a variety of sources including the Pupil Equity Fund, Alloa Rotary Club and Alloa Academy Parent Council.

It is open to all pupils every school day and staff development days as well as during some school events such as open evenings and school concerts.

The shops aims to help ensure equity across the school, as well as improving sustainability and avoiding strain on the environment.

Cllr Graham Lindsay, spokesperson for education, said: “The pre-loved shop is a fantastic initiative which will make a real difference to families in the Alloa Academy community.

“I congratulate Sharon for setting the shop up last year and for taking such care with the items donated to ensure they are in tip-top condition before they are passed on to their new owners."

In April 2022, Sharon joined with other staff and community members to form Alloa Community Empowerment.

Building on the success of the Literacy, Employability and Food Hygiene programme which has been running for the past two years, this group was formed to create more after school programmes and initiatives for Alloa families.

The group presented their ideas at The Lens event in Alloa Town Hall in April and were delighted to receive funding for programmes for 2023-24 to include sewing and crafts, a singing group and a walking group.

The plan is that the pre-loved shop will be open in the evenings when the programmes are running and this will ensure wider access to essential resources for Alloa families.

Cllr Lindsay added: “It is also encouraging to see that the pre-loved shop could soon be operating alongside various after-school programmes and initiatives in Alloa Academy which will bring it to the attention of even more families in the area who could really benefit from it.”