Helping Hand – Bucks Council

Press Release from Buckinghamshire Council

27 October 2020

‘Helping Hand’ – Buckinghamshire Council’s Commitment to children in need over Half Term

Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 this year, Buckinghamshire Council is supporting pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals and are committed to ensure that no child in need goes hungry.

The council with our partners in the voluntary sector have already spent over £180,000 on food for families in need.  In addition, we already have plans to develop a number of longer term programmes to assist the most vulnerable, with programmes aimed at early intervention, manage family finance and with £120,000 committed to schemes to help residents grow their own food, if they can, and learning how to cook healthy food on a low budget.

This autumn half term we want to ensure that families across Bucks, with children eligible for free school meals, know how to access the wide range of support that is available.  Buckinghamshire has a strong voluntary and community sector which is active in supporting vulnerable families. Our ‘Helping Hand’ team can help direct people to the support that is right for them. This may be from the voluntary or community sector or direct from the council. If anyone is worried about food over half term, and not sure what help is available, please contact the council’s ‘Helping Hand’ support line on 01296 395000, and someone will be ‘on hand’ to help you. This programme is funded by joint support from the Government’s Hardship Fund provided to local councils over the summer and Buckinghamshire Council.

Martin Tett, Leader of the Council, said “We don’t want any child in Buckinghamshire to go hungry this holiday. As a council we are committed to ensuring that does not happen. We know how fantastic our communities are with supporting each other during times of crisis, there is lots of local support available. We also know it isn’t always that easy to know where to turn, so I would encourage anyone with a child who is eligible for free school meals and is worried, to contact us so we can ensure they can get access to the support they need. We are here and can offer that practical help, including links to supermarkets if needed too.”

‘Helping Hand’ – Buckinghamshire Council’s Commitment to children in need over Half Term

We have developed a local Bucks scheme which will have the following features:

  • An emergency targeted response for October half term to support those in hardship.
  • This will be delivered by the Council through the Contact Centre number – people can also drop into ‘Council Access Plus’ points in Aylesbury and Amersham and High Wycombe Library.
  • Where appropriate, the Council’s Contact Centre will signpost people to local community solutions and foodbanks.
  • Where this is not appropriate or possible, the Council will arrange for food boxes or supermarket food vouchers.
  • Contact Centre will log the details of everyone who receives support so that we can ensure no double funding.
  • The scheme will be communicated through all normal channels – and we will also ask schools to send details to parents.
  • There are almost 8,000 children on free school meals in Buckinghamshire (estimated around 4,000 families).  At an average cost of £15 per head for the week, this would mean a commitment of up to £120k for this single week of half term. This will be funded by Buckinghamshire Council.

 

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