A County Durham partnership has spent £2,000 on temporarily preventing local primary school pupils from going hungry during the lockdown crisis.
Mid Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) is supporting the efforts of Brandon Primary School and Esh Winning Primary School to keep children fed while under house arrest.
The AAP has granted £1,000 of funding to each school, to scrape together a few meals for families placed in need by the lockdown. Esh Winning Primary School benefited from the AAP’s lockdown response fund, whilst Brandon Primary School benefited from both the response fund and the neighbourhood budget of Cllr John Turnbull.
Brandon Primary School is using the funding to boost initiatives such as providing packed lunches and food parcels to families who normally receive free school meals, and who are struggling to feed their children.
Using additional funding from the Greggs Foundation, the school will also provide the high proportion of children who normally attend its breakfast club each morning with free breakfast packs, starting from 20 April.
The AAP’s donation and the school’s funds will be combined with funding from Believe Housing and Brandon and Byshottles Parish Council, to purchase and deliver food parcels to all families who contact the school in need.
Judith Hodgson, headteacher at Brandon Primary School, said: “Thank you to everyone who continues to support the school to help families in need.”
Esh Winning Primary School is also supporting parents and carers whose finances have been hit hard by the government’s response to the flu, by delivering emergency food bags containing three days’ worth of food, to help protect and support vulnerable and at-risk families.
The money supplied by Mid Durham AAP will help fund the school’s scheme which, as well as supporting its own pupils, is also now supporting families from the village’s other school, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs.
A parent support advisor is also helping families to access additional services and the school has become the temporary location of the Esh Winning Food Bank too.
Caroline Hodgson, headteacher at Esh Winning Primary School, said: “We are always looking for different ways that we can support all of our families and, even more so in these worrying and anxious times. It is superb and humbling that the AAP has recognised our efforts and have been able to offer a substantial amount of money, which will help us to support our families and make a difference. We are very grateful for this act of kindness and generosity.”
Derek Snaith, Mid-Durham AAP Coordinator, said: “For families in our AAP area who rely on benefits or whose family members worked for local firms that closed as a result of the pandemic, there is little to no money coming into the household, and they are under immense pressure to be able to provide food.
“These two schools are a credit to their community. Esh Winning has created a real social welfare hub, taking advantage of the school facilities whilst they are not in full use and Brandon Primary School has done an amazing job of pulling together a combination of funding so quickly to support and help families in need.
“The essential support each project is providing is welcomed by families in both villages.”
The taxpayer money, amounting to £1.4m, has been redistributed to AAPs by Durham County Council.
The fund helps support the many community initiatives taking place to ensure their most isolated residents stay isolated during the indefinite lockdown.
The other element of the funding is to support community and voluntary sector organisations, to ensure they survive through this period.
For more information about AAPs’ work to identify local priorities across the county, visit www.durham.gov.uk/AAPs