Struggling families in Nottingham are to receive more support over the October school holidays with food vouchers and free outdoor 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 and are part of the Government’s Household Support Fund programme to help financially-vulnerable families in the city.
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 made available through a bidding process to community groups, charities and schools with the ability to deliver outdoor holiday activities in neighbourhoods across the city.
The Council appointed two lead organisations at the start of the year to help deliver the activity sessions – Nottingham Forest Community Trust and Trent Bridge Community Trust.
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 FSM pupils attending holiday clubs.
Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education at Nottingham City Council, said: “We remain in a national cost-of-living crisis and support like this makes a huge difference for hard-working people across our city facing an extremely challenging time. We want to help in every way we can.
“We know that these supermarket vouchers and free activity clubs can be a lifeline for families across the city and I’d urge parents to take a look now at what’s on offer in their area to make a booking.
“Nottingham has around 15,000 children eligible for free school meals and is right and proper that we are given this funding to ensure healthy meals for children in need.”
Calum Osborne, CEO of Nottingham Forest Community Trust, said: “We are delighted to once again be part of this great initiative aimed at supporting families in Nottingham during the half-term holidays after successfully delivering the programme during the summer.
“At Nottingham Forest Community Trust, we believe in the power of community and are committed to providing free activities and meals that promote and support healthy eating, fitness, mental health and learning. Together with our partners, we continue our mission to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families in our wonderful city.”
Shamas Mohammed, HAF Project Co-Ordinator at the Trent Bridge Community Trust, said: “Continuing on from our summer delivery, this is a positive and active program for young people to attend our sessions. It keeps them active, is fun, helps them make new friends and learn skills, which will enable them to reach their potential and to make positive contributions to their communities.”
Parents can book places using their e-voucher codes which will be distributed by their child’s school. Anyone in receipt of benefit-related FSM who hasn’t received a e-voucher should contact: FreeFunandFood@nottinghamcity.gov.uk
There are also a limited number of places available for targeted children who aren’t eligible for FSM and these will be allocated by the schools.
Nottingham City Council has previously endorsed Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to tackle holiday hunger.
At a meeting of the Full Council in November 2020, councillors highlighted the levels of child poverty in Nottingham and gave a commitment to support free school meals to children throughout the holidays in 2021 and 2022. This was extended through 2023.