Timely second-hand sales at school

Sandy Skelton, CCF Climate Outreach Officer & Cambridgeshire Repair Cafe Network Coordinator

Increasingly time poor, cash stretched, mentally overloaded parents need help. It’s death by a thousand cuts – register for this, pay that, log in there (with each account), remember that, buy this, go there, wait here – it is relentless, and can make it feel impossible to let in bigger, more systemic issues like climate change.

As with most things, nobody’s going to help us, so we need to crack on and help each other. Jen Gale who joined us at the CCF AGM, shared her experience of being a knackered mum and doing her best to reduce her environmental impact and nurture others (70 thousand of them!) to do the same. Take home messages for me: do what you can; share ideas; nobody’s perfect; don’t be a dick.


At my children’s school we’re trying to figure out ways to raise money to support the school, that actually make things easier and more enjoyable rather than adding to the mental load. My personal passion is that we reduce our environmental footprints whilst doing this. One key thing we can do, is help parents to pass on the endless amount of stuff that they own to each other, rather than buying new.

Just before the summer holidays we borrowed the CCF clothes swap kit, which is available for free, and had a second-hand uniform sale combined with a picnic for the new reception intake about to join the school. Families had a chance to meet each other before the summer and grab some uniform at the same time. It was a big success and we raised about £200. On the first Friday in October we got together and had a pre-loved costume sale ahead of Halloween, and raised a further £450 in donations (we didn’t set a price). We’ve made a donation to CCF and are looking forward to borrowing the kit again soon. 

Having themed sales reduces the time it takes to sort clothes, and having them early enough, reminds people that they’re going to need a costume, and offers a convenient second-hand option first. We don’t have the capacity to have individual sales for all the multitude of things that we seem to be expected to own, so in the summer we plan to have a flea market on the school field. Families will be able to set up a stall on a picnic blanket for a small fee. We’ll sell cakes and probably beers and hope to get a band together. I’ve recently discovered the Community ARC, who lend out resources to community groups, and hope to borrow a candy floss machine from them. 

Suddenly it all feels like less of a slog!