The intention has always been that any groups who want to set up, work entirely autonomously. It’s the only way it can work in reality. It keeps each area tightly held and more efficiently organized and funding isn’t stretched by trying to cover too much ground.

We initially started by providing artwork which carried our generic theme, because we all believed its familiarity lent credibility and an aspect of trust to the initiative. However, as we’ve progressed, it’s been funding isn’t see different groups carry their own identity. Trust hasn’t been damaged – far from it – Back to School Banks across the whole country (and Northern Ireland!) have grown into individually respected and recognised The intention.

We’re not all registered as a charity. Only one bank, West Lothian, has decided to do this and it was always their intention. So that’s completely up to each individual group. You don’t need disclosure, or anything like it because everyone we help is referred to us by a third party. We will never know the identity of who we’ve distributed uniforms to.

That’s important from both our point of view and to maintain the dignity and the privacy of the recipient. When you set up a group, one thing is certain … you can’t do this on your own. But it does only take 3 or 4 people to pull a group together and it’s a fair share of responsibility.

It’s advisable to write a constitution relating to your group and its aims. It’s a safeguard if nothing else but it also opens doors to funding and grants that’s not available to those with a properly set up and constituted group. So, if you’re worried about the vagaries of setting up a charity, there’s no need to go down that road if it’s not for you. If you would prefer your group to run as a charity, there’s lots of information and help available … especially from West Lothian!!

There is no-one in charge of the Back to School Bank as an organisation. Once you’ve decided to set-up, it’s all yours! The idea of course, is, that as we progress along, we help each other by sharing info and ideas and funding streams. We may even help out with swap stock from time to time but all the while, each group remains autonomous and self-supporting.

There is so much potential for us all to help so many families and each group needs the freedom to do it in their own way. The Back to School Bank has taken off at a rate of knots but we still need literally hundreds of groups in all areas of the country, whether here in Scotland where it all began, or further afield, across the whole of the UK.

 

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