The kids in tatty shoes without winter coats – and what a teacher did to help them


A teacher has been helping to provide coats and shoes for pupils after realizing they couldn’t afford them.

Kemoy Walker spotted children in the playground without coats during the winter months and more recently saw a number of students coming to school with tattered trainers or shoes.

“You look at how kids dress and you notice something’s not right,” says Kemoy.

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“When you work in education you’re always checking uniform to see what’s missing.

“You look from head to toe and that’s when you notice things like the person hasn’t got a coat on, or they’re not wearing the right shoes. So you ask a question – find out what’s going on.”

As a former youth worker in Moss Side, Kemoy could easily spot the tell-tale signs of a child from a struggling home.

And when he asked pupils why they didn’t have a coat, or the right footwear, the answer was always the same.



Students were turning up to school with worn footwear

“It first started with the coats, and the shoes only came about three weeks ago,” he says.

“The headteacher pulled over a couple of kids with no shoes. They were coming in with trainers or shoes that were beaten down.

“The question was always ‘where are your school shoes?’ and the answer was always the same, ‘my mother can’t afford some at the moment.’



Kemoy became the head of year 7 back in September
Kemoy felt he had to act after spotting the trend

Kemoy, 31, says its yet another example of how the rising cost of living is affecting people from lower income households.

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Manchester is the sixth most deprived local authority area in England according to the latest Indices of Multiple Deprivation.

City leaders fear the number of children who are living in poverty, estimated to be 42 pc in March 2020, will have risen and will continue to rise . Gorton and Abbey Hey – where Kemoy works – is the fourth most deprived area in Manchester, according to Manchester City Council .

“I can imagine how families feel,” he says. “A lot of them don’t earn much money.

“They’re getting a little bit of benefit money and it’s going on things that are essential to their homes. But by the time it’s spent there’s nothing left for the kids.”



Some donations to the students
Some of the donations made to students

Moved at seeing children with holes in their shoes, Kemoy took to social media last November asking for donations of coats and jackets for pupils. He then took to Twitter again last month, calling for people to help by providing school shoes.

Both times he was taken back by the response.

“I only expected a few people to reply but, oh my god, I was so overwhelmed,” he says.

The donations allowed Kemoy and his colleagues to provide dozens of children with brand new coats for the winter. And the school now has a temporary uniform cupboard where they store brand new shoes for anybody who is in need.

Meanwhile, the shoe appeal has been used to help the wider community after other local families reached out to Kemoy for support.

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A student with some new shoes
A student with a new pair of shoes

Shaun, a member of an online movement called ‘take back democracy’, was one of many who saw Kemoy’s tweets and was inspired.

The father-of-three, from Norfolk, set up a GoFundMe page which has so far raised more than £1,000. The money has been used to buy 60 pairs of shoes that Shaun personally delivered to the school.

“It just resonated with me because I was like ‘wow people can’t afford to put shoes on their kids feet’. I got in touch with Kemoy and said I’m going to try and raise some funds,” says Shaun.

“I’m a parent myself which is another reason why it resonated with me. I’m not flush, but I couldn’t imagine being in a position where I can’t put shoes on my kid’s feet.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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