Schoolwear manufacturer David Luke is calling on other businesses to partner charities after the success of its own scheme to provide free uniform for families in need.

Based in Manchester, the company has supplied school uniform to 3,180 children from 1,513 families over the past 12 months through a partnership with Wood Street Mission.

Run through Wood Street Mission’s SmartStart project, it means that David Luke has now provided over 14,254 children in Manchester and Salford with uniform over the past five years.

Kathryn Shuttleworth, managing director of David Luke’s parent company, The Parently Group, said: “Our partnership helps to solve the problem of school uniforms being unaffordable for many families across Manchester and Salford.

“But unlike a traditional charity partnership, we work with Wood Street as if they were a retail customer. This includes a subsidised commercial partnership that sees our support extend beyond the provision of brand-new school uniform to fully integrate customer services, delivery and returns, even staffing the pop-up shop.

“While it may be tempting for businesses to scale back charity projects in light of pandemic pressures, families who rely on the support of partnerships like Wood Street Mission and David Luke are going to need our support more than ever in 2022.

“We would urge other businesses in the region to consider how they might integrate a charitable initiative into their plans. To look beyond cash donations and consider how pooling their expertise and products might be best used to support those of us experiencing poverty.”

Many families struggle to meet the cost of buying new school uniform, with over 40% of children in Manchester living in poverty, but David Luke and Wood Street Mission believe schoolwear remains important.

Wood Street Mission’s development manager, Mark Gaffney, said: “Our SmartStart programme is essential for the families we support. We honestly believe in the positive impact of uniform and have seen first-hand how it helps children to integrate, to feel excited to learn and be able to blend in with other kids without feeling different.

“A happier child means better concentration in studies and helps with confidence. Our partnership with David Luke demonstrates how our charity can work in partnership with the private sector and truly make a difference to those who need our support most.”