Two boroughs have launched plans to boost holidays for families this summer.
Lambeth and Southwark councils have joined forces with independent charity, the Mayor’s Fund for London to announce an extended programme of holiday food and activity this summer.
Beginning on 22 July, the ‘Lambeth and Southwark’s Summer of Food and Fun’ programme will ensure that children and young people (aged 4-19 years), their families and/or carers are able to access a regular source of free nutritious meals over the summer, whether at a local club or at home, and join an array of community activities including sports, theatre, arts and crafts and cooking.
In the event of continued lockdown, young people will be able to also access remote activities, which includes food education and nutritional support, arts and crafts, literacy support, plus a wide range of physical activities.
Ruth Hutt, Director of Public Health and Integrated Disabilities Commissioning, London Borough of Lambeth, says:“We know that summer can be a challenging period for families juggling work and childcare, and that this period incurs additional expense for most. This summer will be particularly difficult for many families due to the impact of Covid-19. We are delighted to have an intensive summer programme of free activities, with nutritious meals, for children across the borough to support parents and ensure that children have a happy, memorable break.”
Cllr Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Public Health, Southwark, said: “Now more than ever we need to keep our young people entertained and educated about healthy habits. Encouraging healthy eating and providing a meal for some of our most vulnerable young people is a great way for them to stay healthy and active over the summer break and provides a lifeline to some families over the summer break.”
Speaking about the new partnership Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, Mayor’s Fund for London, said: “Many young people in London are paying a devastating price for Covid-19 and, as a society, we have a duty to help. We are really pleased to be able to work more closely with Lambeth and Southwark to ensure holiday provision for all young people continues to be high quality, inclusive and sustainable.”
To receive the online brochure and take part in the ‘Lambeth and Southwark’s Summer of Food and Fun’ programme, families can sign up via summeroffoodandfun.org.uk.
The dual-borough programme will be delivered by the Mayor’s Fund’s network of local community organisations (‘hubs’), including schools, adventure playgrounds and youth clubs, that offer free meals and activities during school holidays through its Kitchen Social project. The initiative has supported over 122 holiday hubs across London, including 16 in Lambeth and seven in Southwark. The Mayor’s Fund will work with Lambeth Council and Southwark Council to engage existing hubs and recruit new hubs across both boroughs. The intention is to have approximately 75 programmes for children of different ages and with different interests.
Covid-19 has increased the number of children and young people in London at risk of ‘food insecurity’ – this means that they cannot guarantee sufficient quality or quantity of food.
Some will be hungry. The Kitchen Social network will help to alleviate the negative impact of COVID on food insecurity across these boroughs.
In 2019, the Greater London Authority estimated that 400,000 children aged 16 or under were in food insecurity. Of these, only 196,000 qualify for the Government food voucher scheme during the pandemic, meaning at least 200,000 may go hungry. This figure is likely to be far higher because of rising unemployment and loss of self-employment income. In addition, many food banks are struggling.
The Mayor’s Fund for London has been coordinating relief efforts within its own food provision network and alongside other surplus food charities to ensure food and supplies get to the children and families who need it most. These organisations are working around the clock to provide packed lunches, hot food for collection and deliver food hampers to families in need.
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