A teacher helped provide coats and shoes for students after realizing they couldn’t afford them.

Kemoy Walker has spotted children in the playground without coats during the winter months and more recently a number of pupils have come to school with ragged trainers or shoes.

“You look at how the kids dress and you notice something is wrong,” says Kemoy.

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“When you work in education, you always check the uniform to see what’s missing.

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

As a former Moss Side educator, Kemoy could easily spot the telltale signs of a child from a troubled home.

And when he asked the students why they didn’t have coats or good shoes, the answer was always the same.

Students came to school with worn-out shoes

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

“The director arrested two children without shoes. They arrived with sneakers or damaged shoes.

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

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

Kemoy, 31, says it’s yet another example of how the rising cost of living is affecting people from low-income households.

Manchester is the sixth most deprived local authority area in England according to the latest multiple deprivation indices.

City leaders fear the number of children living in poverty, estimated at 42% in March 2020, will have increased and will continue to increase . Gorton and Abbey Hey – where Kemoy works – is the fourth most deprived area in Manchester, according to Manchester City Council .

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

“They get some benefit money and it goes to things that are essential for their homes. But by the time it’s spent, there’s nothing left for the kids.”

Some donations to students
Some donations made to students

Moved to see children with holes in their shoes, Kemoy took to social media last November to ask for donations of coats and jackets for students. He then returned to Twitter last month, calling on people to help him by providing school shoes.

Both times he was surprised by the response.

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

Donations have enabled Kemoy and his colleagues to provide dozens of children with brand new winter coats. And the school now has a temporary uniform closet where they stock new shoes for anyone who needs them.

Meanwhile, the Shoe Appeal was used to help the wider community after other local families contacted Kemoy for help.

A student with 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 Norfolk-born father-of-three has set up a GoFundMe page which has so far raised over £1,000. The money was used to purchase 60 pairs of shoes which Shaun personally delivered to the school.

“It resonated with me because I was like ‘wow, people can’t afford to put shoes on their kids’ feet.’ fund,” says Shaun.

“I’m a parent myself, which is another reason why this 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.