A CHARITY is inviting children to pick up second-hand uniforms ahead of the new school year to provide respite for struggling families.

Grace Gomez started New Beginnings last year to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people and has successfully refurbished the old Queen's Arms pub on Great Knollys Street.

As well as providing hot meals and shelter for homeless people, the charity recently sent out an appeal, asking for schools to donate old items of clothing.

Grace said: "Schools gather so much lost property and they end up getting rid of it. We emailed all the schools and we have been inundated with clothes.

Reading Chronicle:

"That means we have been able to set up a uniform shop and people can come in and grab two or three items for free. If you can afford to make a donation then that would be great, but it is not essential.

"When I was buying school uniforms for my children I could not believe how expensive it was."

The alcohol-free pub near the Reading Buses depot continues to offer respite for families in need.

This service includes an after-school cafe, which will run throughout the summer holidays from 2pm to 4pm every Wednesday.

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Parents can take a look through the extensive range of school uniforms, including sports kit, before enjoying a meal provided by the charity.

Grace, who has experienced homelessness herself, added: "We want to provide a space for those people.

"The demand on food banks over the summer holidays always increases because families are under pressure.

"If you are a family and you are struggling there are not many places you can go for help.

Reading Chronicle:

"It is quite shocking, but there are a number of families out there who cannot afford the essentials and that includes food and the proper school uniform.

"Parents can come in and we have lots of activities for them to do. They can relax and chat and then we have a meal that we serve to everyone."

There are plans in place to introduce a community fridge at the pub, with funding for the scheme being provided by Reading Rotary Club.