Children returning to school on 8 March may place another financial strain on those families already struggling. School uniforms, shoes and school meals will be an added cost. However, there is help available.

Our partner Citizens Advice Manchester (CAM) has put together a great blog highlighting the help that is out there and how to access it. 

If you get benefits such as tax credits or Employment and Support Allowance then you may be able to claim:

 1. Free school meals 

You can apply for free school meals for your child if you claim certain benefits - if you’re on Universal Credit, Child Tax credit, Working tax Credit run-on, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Guarantee Credit (as part of Pension Credit) you may be eligible. 

You can apply for free school meals on the website.  

2. Help paying for activities and uniforms 

We all know how expensive it is paying for school uniforms and activities such as learning a musical instrument but if you’re on a low income, your local education authority might be able to give you a helping hand with some of these costs. You can find your LEA at

Also check out where to get the best deals for school uniform.

3. Help with transport to and from school 

If your child is aged between 5-16, your LEA might be able to help with free or lower cost transport if you don’t live near school or your child is unable to walk there. Apply to your local LEA - but be aware if there is a school nearby your child could get to more easily, your local authority doesn’t have to pay for their travel. 

If you need help applying or think your child should get free travel but your local education authority has refused, CAM can help with your application or appeal against a decision.

4. Everyday living costs

If you are struggling with everyday living costs CAM can also help you get back on track. They can help with budgeting, debt management and assess your benefits to see whether you are entitled to any further support. They provide judgement-free-advice and can guide you through the next steps to get your finances under control. 

If you think you would benefit from CAM support, please apply to LifeLine and we will refer you to our dedicated CAM care team at no cost to you. 

But of course LifeLine can also help families that might not necessarily qualify for the support mentioned above but may still be struggling with financial hardship. If you don't qualify for government support but know you will find it hard to find the extra money you need for school equipment, then please do get in touch and apply for support. 

And don't forget, LifeLine can help in further ways:

Whatever your need please reach out to us and complete our application form. Once we have received your application we will come back to you with any further questions after which your case will be considered by the Trustees who will decide if we can help and in what capacity.

We will do our very best to assess your application as soon as we can, but please be mindful that these are very challenging times with many people seeking help. Your case will be treated in strict confidence. 

The application form itself is not a guarantee of help. Each application will be treated on a case-by-case basis and with the care it deserves. 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at or call 0203 693 0170.