Help with food and heating offered to Reading families in need

Food vouchers will be provided to children and families in most need in Reading this February half-term.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), Reading Borough Council (RBC) and Reading’s schools will again be working together to help ensure no disadvantaged children in the borough go hungry or without heating.

The scheme follows a successful joint operation at the end of last year which resulted in 3,596 food vouchers being issued to Reading families over the Christmas break.

The Government’s Winter Grant Scheme includes £15 food vouchers for children who currently receive pupil premium free school meals. This scheme is co-ordinated by BFfC and, during the coming half-term, the vouchers will be issued directly by schools to their eligible pupils.

RBC is working on a scheme to help families with energy costs and details will be announced shortly.

Children who receive universal free school meals in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are only eligible for the vouchers if they additionally qualify for pupil premium.

The Christmas vouchers scheme was quickly put in place in December with the co-operation of schools and the One Reading Community Hub, which helped with call handling, and resulted in a good take-up from families in need.

Di Smith, BFfC Board Chair, said: “I would like to thank everyone involved in the hugely important task of ensuring food and energy vouchers get to disadvantaged children and families in Reading.

“These are tough times for many people and the partnership approach to delivering these vital schemes helps to provide a lifeline for those most in need.”

Liz Terry, Lead Councillor for Children at Reading Borough Council, said: “The council and Brighter Futures for Children have once again mobilised to ensure that no child in Reading, no matter what their circumstances are, need go hungry this half term.

“It continues to be an extremely difficult time for everyone, and particularly for those who are struggling financially. Help is at hand for those who need it the most.”

Ashley Pearce, Lead Councillor for Education at the council, said: “Without this hugely important initiative by the council, Brighter Futures for Children and local schools, there would be disadvantaged children in the borough at risk of going hungry this half term.

“I would urge any family who finds themselves in difficulty to contact the hub and check the support available to them.”

Families who find themselves in difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic can contact the One Reading Community Hub for support at: https://www.reading.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-one-reading-community-hub-support/ or by calling 0808 189 4325.

If you think your circumstances mean your children may be eligible for pupil premium free school meals, please ask your school for an application form or fill in the form on the BFfC website: https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/schools/school-meals/