Thousands of Shropshire children to benefit from free school meals and new warm clothes fund
Shropshire Council is committed to help keep children and young people from low income homes fed and warm over the coming winter.
More than £800,000 will be spent on extending the provision of free school meals into the holidays, and setting up a new warm clothes initiative through the county’s schools.
The money allocated from the Government will help to keep children fed and warm, and alleviate some of the financial concerns and pressures which many are expected to experience after the closure of the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift ending this autumn.
Children in Shropshire who receive free school meals or are from disadvantaged families will continue to benefit from support with food costs during holiday periods, as they did last Christmas, spring half-term, Easter, Whitsun half-term and in the summer holidays.
Around 8,000 children in schools and pre-school settings will receive support with food costs equivalent of £15 per week during October 2021 half-term, the Christmas holiday, and spring half-term 2022.
To ensure this valuable support continues through to the Easter 2022 holidays, Shropshire Council has requested that the period covered by the grant is extended to include the holidays in April.
The scheme, designed to ensure that children and young people don’t go hungry, will be facilitated by a child’s school or early years provider, who will distribute this directly to families, mainly via supermarket vouchers. Shropshire Council will spend around £720,000 to extend free school meals during these holiday periods.
Separately, the council is putting funding into the county’s schools to enable them to support parents or carers who are struggling to provide their children with warm winter clothes or shoes to go to school.
The council will be distributing £121,000 to schools who will establish a fund in their school to provide support to those young people requiring this type of assistance based on direct need, rather than eligibility. It is estimated this will help around 4,000 Shropshire children this winter.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:
“We want to ensure, working with schools and early years settings, that this money goes directly to help those children and young people who will benefit most from it at a time when the pandemic has increased pressure on many people’s incomes.
“Feeding children during the holidays can be a real struggle if you’re on a low income, as can ensuring children having the right clothes to keep warm at school.
“Schools know their pupils’ circumstances best and will be working closely with families to ensure this support goes to the right children and where it will provide the most help.”
There will be some families this winter with needs that go beyond support with the costs of food and warm clothes. In these instances, the council has a hardship fund which can be used to provide further support. To find out contact the council’s Welfare Support Team application line – 0345 678 9078 (option 2).