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Tower Hamlets Council commits to provide meals for children in need during Christmas and February school holidays

  • Tower Hamlets Council will be providing meals for children in need across the borough over the Christmas break and February half-term.
  • £25 vouchers to cover the Christmas period will be distributed through schools to existing statutory free school meal eligible children

The council has announced that over half of its Covid Winter Grant Fund has been set aside to provide meals during the next two school holidays for more than 16,000 children living in poverty in Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets’ Tackling Poverty team will work with Tesco and Asda to provide vouchers worth £25 to spend on food over the Christmas period. Any child who is eligible for statutory free school meals during term time will receive support. 

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “No child should go hungry in Tower Hamlets this winter. We know that families can struggle during the school holidays and as a council we will be there to offer support. This funding will make a huge difference to some of our most vulnerable residents during the winter months.’’ 

The council is working closely with its schools, who will again be going above and beyond their usual work to help to distribute the vouchers to families. Another example of their role in providing community leadership as they have done throughout the pandemic.

Cllr Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: “No family should have to worry about feeding their child during the school holidays and I’m pleased that our plans will mean children, who might otherwise go hungry, will be fed over the Christmas period.” 

Proposals on how the council will spend the remaining Covid Winter Grant Fund will be shared in the coming weeks. 

The council also recently launched an emergency food appeal on behalf of 31 local food banks to support them during what, even during a normal year, would be a period of very high demand. It is aiming to raise £5,000 per month to continue providing food support. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so here: www.spacehive.com/tower-hamlets-food-appeal

Vulnerable residents who are in the highest need of support can call the council on 020 7364 3030 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

[ENDS] 

Notes to editors: 

About Tower Hamlets response to Covid-19 

Since the start of the pandemic, Tower Hamlets Council has distributed 190 tonnes of food to those who needed it and invested almost £1 million (£950,000) through its resident support scheme. Despite this the need is greater than ever this year.  

Between 20 March and 31 August 2020, the Contract Catering team provided over 96,000 free school meals - with the vast majority going to vulnerable children and children of key workers in the borough. 

About the council’s emergency food appeal on behalf of local food banks 

People who wish to donate to the council’s emergency food appeal can do so by visiting www.spacehive.com/tower-hamlets-food-appeal. Spacehive is waiving its fee for the project so all donations will be going to the campaign, minus the GoCardless transaction fee of 1.2 per cent.  

Anyone who would like to help but is unable to support financially can sign up to be a volunteer through the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2,300 people have signed up to be a volunteer, playing a key role in the community response to Covid-19. Visit www.vcth.org.uk for more information and to sign up. 

The full story can be found on the council website here.

About the Winter Aid Grant Fund 

A £170 million Covid Winter Grant Fund was announced by the Government on 8 November, to enable local authorities to better support vulnerable children, families and those in need between December and March. Tower Hamlets Council received £1.2 million. 

Local authorities in England can choose how they spend their funding if it supports those most in need with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking and lighting), water bills (including sewerage) and other essentials. 

The funds must be spent between December 2020 and March 2021. 

Read more on gov.uk: COVID Winter Grant Scheme.

Posted on Monday 7th December 2020