Andy Hirst from AH! PR uses his writing skills to raise almost £50,000 for charity

 

Andy Hirst has raised almost £50,000 for a West Yorkshire charity by doing all their applications for funding.

The journalist who founded and runs his own PR business, AH! PR, had written press releases for Uniform Exchange and written all the content for their new website

He was then asked to help with an application for funding in January 2023 and that success led him to take on the role ever since.

The charity provides free school uniform for families struggling to afford it, especially in the most deprived areas across Kirklees which includes the major towns of Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and to virtually all refugee and asylum-seekers children arriving in the area.

Uniform Exchange encourages people across Kirklees to donate school uniform through dozens of collection points which are then redistributed to families in need from each individual’s specific requirements. All the uniform is reused or recycled which makes it more environmentally sustainable by keeping it out of landfill and the charity stops around 50 tonnes of school uniform needlessly being thrown away each year.

Uniform Exchange saved parents almost £1m from having to buy new uniform in 2023, helping 10,188 children. That’s nearly double the number it helped in 2022 and over 10 times more than it helped in 2018.

Andy said: “The charity is now a huge logistical operation and costs just over £100,000 to run each year so the funding applications are absolutely vital. Every penny goes into running the charity as a crucial frontline service.

“When I first started to work with the charity it was writing press releases, blogs and website content but once I’d done a couple of funding applications I realised I could potentially help them with many more.”

Andy has now put in dozens of funding applications for Uniform Exchange with money granted from local funders through to national ones such as the King Charles III Charitable Fund and the National Lottery.

Andy said: “It’s certainly far from plain sailing and I’ve had many rejections along the way but that’s the nature of applying for funding. It’s disappointing to get knocked back but then the next one may be successful and as soon as that happens you get feeling positive again.

“A few have rejected the initial application but then emailed me saying they love what the charity does and to try again when their next funding round opens. That’s what it’s all about – that old saying that ‘if at first you don’t succeed then try, try again.’

“There’s no doubt that every funding organisation is overwhelmed by the number of applications they receive. I tried to apply for one which closed after receiving 45 applications. Those were received and the fund was shut again to applications in less than an hour. It can be that competitive.”

Andy added: “The questions can be very comprehensive with the funders sometimes requesting a lot of financial information and applications can be time-consuming but there’s no way round it if charities and good causes are going to continue to exist.”

Andy has now brought in £47,925 for Uniform Exchange which also receives money from fundraising, its own charity shop, direct monthly giving, a weekly lottery and schemes which raise money for the charity when its supporters shop online such as easyfundraising

The average cost for a new full primary school uniform is now £287 a year with secondary school uniforms costing families £422 a year for each child.

This is why Uniform Exchange is now pushing the line ‘make second-hand your first choice.’

If you think Andy can help your charity email him at andy@ah-pr.com