Nottingham has secured another £1.8m to help struggling families in the school holidays with food vouchers and holiday clubs.
The support comes as people are facing an ‘extremely challenging’ time because of the rising cost of living, including a huge increase in the price of gas and electricity announced last week.
The City Council has consistently made £15-per-week supermarket vouchers available to all children who receive free school meals (FSM) over holiday periods, as well as overseeing a number of community activity clubs across Nottingham.
At these, FSM pupils receive a free lunch, plus a programme of activities focused on healthy eating, fitness and mental health.
More than 15,000 children attended these clubs and were fed over the summer holiday in Nottingham last year, and this latest money will be used to deliver clubs and activities throughout 2022 and beyond.
It will run for one week at Easter, three weeks in the summer, one week in October and one week at Christmas. The Council has appointed Nottingham Forest Community Trust as its lead project partner this year.
The £1,814,460 Holiday Activity Fund (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.
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.
Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “We welcomed news in November that the Government would continue this vital funding for a further three years. In areas of the country like Nottingham it’s a genuine lifeline for families who are struggling.
“In a week where we’ve seen energy prices soar, 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.”
Graham Moran, Chief Executive Officer at the Nottingham Forest Community Trust, said: “We are delighted to be named as the Lead Partner for HAF and our ambition is to build on the great success of the 2021 programme by delivering even more high-quality, fun-based activities and food provision in 2022.
“Our positive partnership with the City Council, local community-based organisations and businesses last year proved that a collaborative approach involving the public, private and third-sectors can deliver great outcomes for Nottingham people.”
Nottingham City Council has previously endorsed Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to tackle holiday hunger.
At a meeting of Full Council in November 2020, councillors highlighted the levels of child poverty in Nottingham and gave a further commitment to support free school meals to children throughout the holidays.
The authority is also keen to hear from parents whose children attended holiday activity clubs during 2020 and 2021. Feedback will help to improve activities further for the coming year.
An online survey is available here.