Over 2,800 Worcester families to receive food parcels this Christmas
Families of Worcester children who receive free school meals will be offered a free parcel containing approximately £40 worth of food over the festive period.
The cost will be covered by central Government's new Household Support Fund (HSF) grant, designed to help the most in need this winter meet food, energy and water bills. Worcester City Council has been allocated £337,000 from this fund which must be spent by March 2022.
"We're working in partnership with schools, community groups and charities to ensure that support reaches any Worcester resident who is facing hardship this winter," says Cllr James Stanley, Chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee.
"The Household Support Funding we've received from central Government will be used to meet a range of needs locally including the cost of food, heating, water, white goods and accommodation."
£226,720 will be spent in total on delivering food parcels in Worcester this December and during the February 2022 half term.
At least ten Worcester schools are preparing a total 1,000 parcels to go out to families this week. Bishop Perowne C of E College in Worcester is preparing 370 food parcels, with DHL delivering the contents to the school for free.
Jane Price, Headteacher at Bishop Perowne CE College, commented: "Christmas can be a worrying time for some households, so we're pleased to be able to provide the food parcels to help alleviate some of this concern. Each parcel will include a few Christmas treats, as well as cupboard staples to help families through the holiday period.
"In addition to the grant of £14,800 from Worcester City Council, our school food supplier Almanhall has added £500 meaning we are able to provide 370 of our students with a £40 food parcel - we want to thank both of them for their support.
"Clare Morris, our Head of Year 11, has worked tirelessly to organise the food parcels - a huge thanks to Sainsbury's in Kidderminster for their help with this and to DHL for collecting and delivering the food to the school. We hope the food parcels help our students to enjoy their Christmas break."
Like U Worcester , a charity which supports minorities in the city from a variety of backgrounds, is preparing 600 parcels.
The Oasis Warndon Community Hub is delivering 50 food parcels to local families.
"This funding will give a huge boost to many families who have found these last few years increasingly difficult for many reasons," says Fay Osborne, Leader at the Oasis Community Hub in Warndon.
"The food hampers contain a variety of food to help during the holidays - but there's some nice seasonal food too. We have also been able to include toys and books thanks to the generosity of other local individuals and businesses. We hope that the parcels bring families a little smile after a particularly hard year. When families return their Christmas hamper bag for recycling, they will receive a New Year parcel with some essential items to help in January too."
Worcester Foodbank has recommended that each parcel contains breakfast cereals; soup; pasta; rice; pasta sauce; tinned beans; tinned meat; tinned vegetables; tinned fruit; peanut butter; tea or coffee; biscuits or crackers and snacks.
Worcester City Council will also give £15,000 from the Household Support Fund to the Worcester Food Bank to cover the costs of food, clothing and travel vouchers to local families who need winter support.
Winter activities and entertainment for children in receipt of free school meals
Additionally, Worcestershire County Council's Children's Services department has joined forces with Worcester's Swan Theatre to offer a winter school holiday programme for local children who receive free school meals.
The sessions, which are being offered to 5 – 16 year olds, are led by experienced Youth Theatre Tutors and will explore storytelling, character development and much more. Food will provided for every child which attends the programme and those coming to a Friday session will receive free tickets to the theatre's Beauty and the Beast pantomime production.
Christmas sports and activity camps for children receiving free school meals are being run by Worcestershire Cricket Club, Severn Stars Netball and Worcester Wolves Basketball at the Worcester Arena.Nunnery Wood High School and All-Sorts Performing Arts are also running winter holiday camps.
Support to cover additional household costs
In addition to funding food parcels, Worcester City Council will use Household Support Funding to extend eligibility and uptake for its Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme which helps vulnerable low income households in Worcester meet the costs of food, heating and white goods.Single people will also be eligible for the scheme this winter, as well as families.
Household Support Funding will also be used to support Worcester residents compelled to stay in emergency accommodation over the festive period.In exceptional cases the funding will also support tenants who are in rent arrears and are at risk of becoming homeless.