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Team are totally devoted to ending holiday hunger

Published on: 04 Aug 2017

A PROJECT in Cadbury Heath is succeeding in making sure children don’t go hungry in the school holidays.

Fit and Fed provides free lunch and sporting activities three days a week - and its popularity is growing.

It started in the Easter holidays, then ran at the May half term and is now operating three days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) for the six-week summer break.

Deb Wright, who runs the scheme for the Juice Project at Cadbury Heath Hall with the help of volunteers, said numbers are increasing as word gets round about the provision.

“We made 49 meals in the first week of the summer holidays and were at capacity on the first day of the second week - we made meals for 25 children and ten helpers,” she said.

“Many of our volunteers are teenagers who have come through the StreetGames initiative; they have proved to be exceptional and we couldn’t manage without them.

“I started as a volunteer but have now been taken on one day a week to oversee this and other wellbeing projects in Cadbury Heath.”

After a sit-down meal, the children and volunteers take part in a variety of games and sports in the park including football, swingball, badminton and rounders.

StreetGames coach Emily Rose, 18, said the project was rewarding for both volunteers and children.

“It can be boring if your parents are at work so this gives them something to do,” she said.

Fellow volunteer Jemima Suffolk also welcomes the opportunity to provide holiday activities for children. Her day job is a Police Community Support Officer.

“It is important to give children positive things to do when they are young; it can help them keep out of trouble. This project gives them a focus.”

Community members have come forward to volunteer with Fit and Fed but Deb would still like to hear from more people who would be able to help prepare food for the children.

Parents can book their children (aged eight and above)  on to Fit and Fed by calling in to the Juice Project on Mondays or Fridays or the hall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The need for the project is emphasised by the latest figures from the Trussell Trust charity, which runs more than 420 food banks across the UK.

It says  families with children of primary school age are the most likely to need emergency food help, especially in the summer.

Samantha Stapley, of the trust, said: "We welcome the government's decision to maintain free school lunches for children during term time - the next step must be to help families during the holidays.

"Food banks are doing more than ever before, but voluntary organisations alone cannot stop primary school children facing hunger."

There were 4 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15, an increase of 200,000 on the previous year.  This means 30% of children, or nine pupils in every classroom of 30 pupils, are officially poor.According to the Children’s Society, two thirds of the four million children in poverty have at least one parent in work.

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