I know many people are concerned about the level of support available for those families who are struggling during these difficult times, especially over the school holiday periods. Below is an outline of some of the actions taken to help at both a national and local level and where to go if you need support. – Gillian
West Sussex County Council has received £737,319. This funding has been used by the Community Hub to get support quickly to those in need throughout the county. £383,000 of that money has been spent directly on food or other essential supplies for vulnerable people. £100,000 has been allocated to the Citizens Advice charities in West Sussex to operate the emergency utility scheme and refer eligible people needing assistance with food to the Community Hub.
Food hampers are being delivered to children entitled to Free School Meals who are off school due to Covid-related reasons. To date more than 150 hampers have been supplied. This has all been possible thanks to a strong collaboration between the council, schools and our contractors Chartwells and Easy Lunch.
Where the need is identified as a one-off then an Aldi food box stock will be supplied. A household supplies version will also be prepared containing key items to support good personal and domestic hygiene in direct response to the COVID19 risks. Where the need is identified as ongoing, there will be continued delivery of food boxes. This can be tailored to the size of the family, meet dietary requirements and includes a mix of fresh and ambient products including dairy.
£60,000 has been made available to support the provision of food within communities via established Food Banks. Discussions are progressing with our District & Boroughs to provide further assistance to community-based organisations who are coming together to create local food partnerships.
The remaining £203,000 of the funding is allocated to supporting families and individuals in need as the pandemic continues. The Community Hub will remain open throughout winter and the County Council is already looking at what capacity is needed over the Christmas holiday period.
This year the Government have provided a further £11.8 million to extend the successful Breakfast Club programme, supporting schools in disadvantaged areas. In addition to delivering Free School Meals during term time to those pupils most in need, the Government also provide free school milk to those eligible, and the school fruit and vegetable scheme has also restarted now that schools have returned.
The Government have also increased overall support in key benefits such as Universal Credit which has been boosted by over £1,000 this year as part of a £9.3 billion increase to the welfare system. This means the average household has seen an annual increase of £1,040 which is more than £20 a week. Councils have been given a further £63 million to help those families most in need.