STUDENTS at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Cockermouth have been donating their old school uniforms to those less fortunate in Ethiopia – and yesterday they saw the impact of their charity.

Helen Faulds, 61, of Belle Vue, Papcastle, founded PovertySwap, a charity which helped the school put their old uniforms to good use. She visited the school on Mountain View to tell students about her most recent trip to Africa.

Headteacher Andrea Worthington said: “We were changing the uniform in the summer and we wondered what to do with the old one. We wanted to do something worthwhile with it.

“We want to help disadvantaged people as much as we can.

“The parents were delighted. We are all mindful of the re-use messages we’re hearing.”

PovertySwap supports impoverished people in Ethiopia as well as Nepal. The charity renovated a derelict building in Ethiopia in 2013, turning it into a school. It later added a nursery block and in 2019 it opened a primary school with £15,000-worth of support from West Cumbrian people.

Helen and 18-year-old Eleanor Thompson, who met as members of Cockermouth’s Christ Church, made the trip to Africa in October to see the charity’s work in action. They took 69kg of luggage made up of St Joseph’s old uniforms.

Mrs Faulds said: “It was only half of the uniforms – I have got more to take next time.”

She explained some of the challenges young people face there including a fee to attend school that only some can afford as well as a community that speaks three different languages, Amharic, Sidamina and English.

Around ten per cent of children at the new school will be sponsored by PovertySwap donors so that they can attend.

“The clothes that some of the children wear don’t tell how poor they are.”