Feeding Young Minds In Hackney
August can mean only one thing for parents – summer holidays! And while this is a time of fun and sun for many, for some parents this can be a difficult time. Children from low income families are often eligible for free school meals, however over the summer holidays, this provision isn’t available. There are also extra costs for childcare and activities for children. This additional pressure on budgets means that there is less money for food which has resulted in food banks giving out 5000 more emergency food supplies over July and August and The Trussel Trust found that 1 in 5 parents expected to skip a meal over the summer break so that their children wouldn’t go hungry.
In Hackney, about 37% of all children are affected by child poverty, according to the standard national child poverty measure. 35% of pupils in Hackney’s primary schools are eligible for free school meals and these levels are about double the national average. Responding to this urgent need in the community, St Luke’s Church in Hackney have partnered with local charity Children with Voices and their Jumping Beans programme over the summer. Running through July and August, the programme offers a variety of fun activities and a healthy meal for children, many of whom would normally receive free school meals during term time. St Luke’s Hackney and Children with Voices have been able to support families who need it most and also bring the community together with donations of food from local businesses and help from volunteers.
On the first day of the programme, a team of volunteers from HSBC spent the day at St Luke’s Hackney to cook for the children, making a hot meal and fruit smoothies and then taking part in activities with the children. The volunteers made a great impression and also had a rewarding experience themselves saying:
“It was a privilege to meet with such wonderful children and to do something to help them. The team are an inspiration and excellent role models for the youngsters. It was great to feel a part of the community and to experience a different part of London life. We had great fun and I look forward to being able to help out again in the future if possible.”
Other members from the same department in HSBC will be back at the end of August where they will be helping with a sports day for the children and their team mates have been praising the programme to them:
“When you get along well with kids throughout the day, you become very good friends with them, and make a positive impact on them. The event is definitely highly recommended!”
Thank you to everyone who has been involved so far and the volunteers that will be taking part soon.