Struggling families in Nottingham are to receive more support over the summer 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.
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.
Ahead of the Easter holidays this year, the Council appointed two lead organisations to help deliver the activity sessions – Nottingham Forest Community Trust and Trent Bridge Community Trust. More than 3,000 children across Nottingham took part.
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.
FSM parents can book places using their e-voucher codes which will be distributed by their child’s school from today (Monday). 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.
Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education, said: “We know that these supermarket vouchers and free activity clubs can be a lifeline for families across the city, especially in the longer holiday period over the summer. I’d urge parents to take a look now at what’s on offer in their area to make a booking.
“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.
“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, Chief Executive Officer at Nottingham Forest Community Trust, said:“We are thrilled to continue our positive partnership with Nottingham City Council and local organisations to deliver the city’s HAF programme during the upcoming summer holidays.
“The exceptional partnerships we have forged across Nottingham and the inspiring relationships we have built with families over the past two years have been truly remarkable.
“We are looking forward to welcoming children to our engaging and educational sessions, providing them with invaluable opportunities to develop new skills, strengthen their confidence, and embark on an exciting journey of exploration into the world of healthy nutrition within a dynamic atmosphere.”
Mark Clifford, Community Projects Manager at Trent Bridge Community Trust, said: “We we’re really pleased with how the Easter programmes were attended and look forward to the summer being even better. There are some amazing activities on offer for young people of Nottingham to take part in, and of course the healthy meal ensuring that support is provided to our families who need it the most.”
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 has since been extended through 2023.