Winter support for families and vulnerable households and looking ahead to holiday activity and food for children and young people
In November 2020 the government announced £390million of funding to support children, young people, families and vulnerable households. This was split into a £170million Winter Grant Scheme to ensure that households have access to food and warmth during the winter period, and a £220million Holiday & Activity Food Programme to provide healthy food and enriching activities during the Easter, Summer and Christmas holiday periods of 2021.
Delivering of the Winter Grant Scheme (WGS) started in November and will be running until the end of March. Through the scheme Local Authorities in the West Midlands have been given approximately £20million and have been working with voluntary sector and community partners to provide a range of help and support to families and households with food, household fuel and bills, white goods and electrical items, as well as clothing. This is all for the purposes of ensuring that everyone is “warm and fed” during the winter and this phase of the pandemic. The financial support is being delivered in a number of ways including some of the following:
- Holiday food/supermarket vouchers issued to children and young people who are eligible for free school meals, as well as other vulnerable groups, such as care leavers;
- Food parcels and hampers provided through local foodbanks and networks;
- Individual grants and payments to households as a contribution to household food and fuel bills;
- Remote top-ups of gas and electric meters;
- Schemes to replace and repair boilers, ovens, kettles and other electrical goods, as well as to provide winter clothing and shoes for children, young people and vulnerable adults.
In addition to the Winter Grant Scheme, Local Authorities will also be receiving over £26million to deliver holiday activity and food (HAF) programmes for the Easter, Summer and Christmas holiday periods of 2021. These programmes will be providing healthy food and activities which are free to access to children and young people in receipt of benefits related free school meals, with at least one week of provision during Easter and Christmas, as well as four weeks during the summer. The intention is that children and young people attending holiday activities and clubs will:
- Eat more healthily
- Be more active
- Take part in engaging and enriching activities
- Be safe and not isolated
- Have greater knowledge of health and nutrition
- Be more engaged with school and other services
- Have greater knowledge and awareness of holiday club provision
With Easter fast approaching, planning is underway across the region with Councils talking to voluntary sector organisations, schools, sports clubs, arts organisations in order to see what might be possible and to build on the range of activity which already takes place during the holidays. It’s likely that conversations with funders will follow to increase the scale of the programmes and widen the access to all children and young people.
If you’d like to find out more, you can get in contact with your local Council. There are also regional meetings taking place on the WGS and HAF, and if you’d like to find out more about these or the plans and activity in Solihull you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available on the web via: