Families in a coastal town are being supported amid the cost of living crisis with the launch of a vital new service.

Lowestoft Uniform Bank has been set up to help families struggling to meet the costs of getting their children fitted out with uniform.

The new school uniform bank has now been running for a few weeks - and now new and pre-loved items are being sought, as well as volunteers to help the service as it grows.

With Lowestoft Rising working with East Suffolk Council on Ease the Squeeze - a range of projects to help the Cost of Living crisis - a school uniform bank was discussed during the summer.

Phil Aves, change manager at Lowestoft Rising, spoke with the Faith Forum Network for Lowestoft, which already does "great things" like Lowestoft Foodbank, FISH, clothing bank and Baby Basics.

With the support of the three churches in the Oulton Broad benefice - at St Mark's, St Luke's and St Michael’s - the school uniform bank progressed.

Lowestoft Rising provided funding, as well as contacts with charities and supermarkets, to help get the service up and running - and it was able to launch in time for the new school term.

Mr Aves said: “Lowestoft Rising listened to the schools and the community and then working with our colleagues in the Church and Faith Network we quickly created a School Uniform Bank for all Lowestoft schools to use.

"The three Oulton churches came together to deliver this in record time and we now have a great facility that help those families that need help with uniform.

"We also know there are a lot of people who have spare uniform that they no longer need and we would welcome good quality spare uniform to add to our Bank.

"I think this is a great example of us all responding to a real need and getting on and addressing it in quick time."

Helping Lowestoft families with free uniform items - new, old and preloved - Lowestoft Uniform Bank is a non-profit organisation that has also set up donation bins for uniform and shoes at three collection points in churches around the town.

Rev Helen Jary, Rector for the Oulton Broad Team Ministry, said: "Phil was looking for a base for the uniform bank for the town, and it was a good fit with our churches as we have a number of schools in our benefice as well as storage space and good car parking here at St Mark’s Church in Oulton Broad.

"It all came about quickly, with Georgi in post in July - so we had a three week window to open before the start of term.

"The power of social media helped us to get donations in."

Georgi Warren, children and families worker, said: "We formed a partnership with Morrisons in Pakefield and the community champion, Sheryl, has been really helpful in getting new uniform and setting up 'pick up packs' in store - allowing local people to contribute.

"The response has been phenomenal from the town and how they have supported us."

Having helped 50 families already since opening, Rev Jary added: "We have only been open for a few weeks, and with quite a lot of people using it we know it is only going to grow.

"There are multiple children in most of these families, and a lot of these families have talked about never accessing help before - until this year.

"Families are increasing week-on-week - and definitely the need is rising.

"We offer a friendly face for those who come in and we just want to help where we can."

Families are also able to swap items or bring in donations, with winter coats, jumpers, blazers, long sleeve shirts and shoes among the items being sought.

Georgi Warren added: "This is the start of something that we really hope will support families in Lowestoft for this school year and many more to come."

Lowestoft families are encouraged to make a request for uniform, and an appointment, by filling out a form on its Facebook page or email lowestoftuniformbank@gmail.com for further details.