Saturday 13 July 2024
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Supermarket food vouchers and free activity clubs for Nottingham families this Easter

Struggling families in Nottingham are to receive more support over Easter through school food vouchers and outdoor holiday activities.

The city council has repeatedly made £15-per-week vouchers available to all pupils who receive free school meals (FSM) over holiday periods. These are issued to parents ahead of their children breaking up from school.

Alongside the supermarket vouchers will be a number of outdoor holiday activities across Nottingham. At these, FSM pupils will receive a free lunch, plus a programme of activities focused on healthy eating, fitness and mental health.

The two projects have been funded through a combined award of £3.68 million from the Household Support Grant Scheme and the Holiday Activity Fund (HAF).

The £1.8m HAF grant was, through a bidding process, made available to community groups, charities and schools with the ability to deliver outdoor holiday activities in neighbourhoods across the city.

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Close to 20,000 children attended these clubs last year and were fed over the Easter, summer, October half-term and Christmas holidays through a continued link-up between the Council and Nottingham Forest Community Trust and Trent Bridge Community Trust as lead organisations this year.

The HAF funding has been allocated from the Department for Education with certain criteria attached. This stipulates that the support for tackling holiday hunger should be through free school meals pupils attending holiday clubs.

Parents can book places using their e-voucher codes which have been distributed directly to parents through their child’s school.

There are also a limited number of places available for children who aren’t eligible for FSM and these will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis by contacting activity providers directly.

Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “We know what a difference these clubs and supermarket vouchers make to families across the city and I’d urge people to take a look now at what’s on offer in their area to make a booking. In areas of the country like Nottingham, it’s a genuine lifeline for families who are struggling.

“At a time when we’re braced again for rising energy prices, support like this can make a huge difference for hard-working people across Nottingham facing an extremely challenging time. Households will be worried about what this means for them and we want to help in every way we can.

“Nottingham has around 15,000 children eligible for free school meals, and many of these families will already be feeling the strain following the removal of the Government’s £20 Universal Credit uplift. It is right and proper that we are given this funding to ensure healthy meals for children in need.”

Calum Osborne, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Nottingham Forest Community Trust, said: “We are extremely excited to work with Nottingham City Council and local organisations to deliver the City’s HAF programme throughout 2023.

“The partnerships we’ve established across Nottingham and relationships we’ve developed with families over the past two years has been incredible. We’re expecting to see more packed-out sessions and we’re looking forward to giving children the opportunity to develop new skills, build their confidence and learn about healthy nutrition in a fun environment.”

Mark Clifford, Community Projects Manager at Trent Bridge Community Trust, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Nottingham City Council and our local trusted partners to deliver this excellent initiative. We want to build on our successes last year to provide an even better holiday activity offer for the young people of Nottingham.

“Furthermore, the healthy meal offer for all participants will not only provide excellent nutrition but also provide some financial respite for parents during these holiday periods.”

At a meeting of the Full Council in November 2020, councillors highlighted the levels of child poverty in Nottingham and gave the commitment to support free school meals to children throughout the holidays in 2021 and 2022. This has since been extended through 2023.

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