Wokingham Borough Council is set to approve £100,000 to cover the cost of food vouchers for families with children who receive means-tested free school meals during the Christmas holidays and February half term at a special meeting of the council’s executive committee next week (2 December).
The council has been awarded £208,703 of the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme announced 8 November. The council is proposing to allocate half of the grant to support the more than 2,100 children and young people in the borough who receive means-tested free school meals. If approved each family would receive £15 of food vouchers per week per child to provide additional support during the Christmas and February half term holidays.
The remainder of the grant will be used to support other families and individuals who are struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Executive member for Children’s Services, Cllr UllaKarin Clark said: “No child should ever go hungry, especially during the Christmas holidays which are meant to be a time of joy. This year the holidays will be different for all of us, and we know that for some families who are struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is going to be really difficult. We want to help those families, to give them one less thing to worry about.
“Each family will receive a £15 voucher per week for each child to ensure they don’t go hungry during the school holidays.
“We will also set aside £5,000 for the young people who were in our care but have recently left our care (Care Leavers) to ensure they have enough food and money for utilities like heating over the winter months. The council is proposing that the rest of the grant will be distributed to families and individuals in need.”
The council will work with its partner Citizens Advice Wokingham to distribute the additional funding to those who need urgent help meeting the cost of food or energy bills. Families and individuals will be able to self-refer to the Wokingham Borough Community Response’s One Front Door. Voluntary sector and frontline workers who are in touch with those who are struggling will also make referrals. The One Front Door will assess need and provide wrap around support, which may include a recommendation to the council for funding from the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to help with the meeting the cost of food and or energy bills. Details of exactly how this process will work will be available in the coming days.
For anyone needing help or support, One Front Door is part of the council’s Wokingham Borough Community Response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It can help with prescription collections or a shopping service, debt advice from being made redundant, statutory sick pay and benefits, mental health, and wellbeing – to name but a few. Contact One Front Door 24/7 via its website or call on (0300) 330 1189 Monday to Fridays, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays, 9am to 1pm. You can also leave a voicemail out of hours.
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