"Schools Out For Summer" sessions to support low income families

Members of The Peaceful Trust and Schools Out For Summer teams with Andy Abrahams, Mayor (Centre)
Members of The Peaceful Trust and Schools Out For Summer teams with Andy Abrahams, Mayor (Centre)

A programme designed to help struggling families with food and other essentials during summer holidays launched its first session.

The session took place at the Focus Point Community Centre Mansfield Woodhouse on Tuesday, July 30 and was attended by over 300 people over the course of the day

There will be six weekly sessions held between 12pm and 3pm every Tuesday until the summer holidays come to an end..

"Schools Out For Summer" is a initiative driven to help support families who are on a tight budget, especially those who rely on free school meals to try and eliminate the risk of hunger.

The peaceful trust manage the community centre and are all for getting involved in community groups on a practical level.

Apart from food donations, registered charity Sharewear Clothing Scheme have donated school uniforms in good condition to offer parents the opportunity to come in and take the uniforms.

There was a situation where a families benefits were on hold after the mother was in hospital and one of her daughters was going into secondary school and required a blazer with a specific school logo on it, the family got in touch with the organisation and the correct blazer was given to the family.

The idea was introduced by Janet Spencer, Coordinator for "Schools Out For Summer" after she went to a winter school play and saw some children wearing plimsolls which were not suitable in the climate at the time.

She said: "After the school play I was constantly thinking about what I saw and decided to do something about it, clearly the children weren't wearing the footwear by choice and it then made me think about what circumstances they were facing.

"I spoke to various organisations about support in the North-Notts region and got in touch with schools and their liaison officers which was tough to begin with as I had no backing or wasn't part of a team or organisation who dealt with issues like this.

"We got involved with organisations which supported us with generous funding such as Mansfield Education Foundation, Redfern Travel, Unite the Union, Unite Community Union,The National Union Of Mineworkers, The Mayor, councillors and donations for businesses and the public.

"The money generated through donations was then used to purchase Morrison's gift vouchers which parents can redeem in exchange of food and other essentials such as toiletries and cleaning products, Supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Morrison's have happily got on board and supplied various items and their support has been incredible"

Charlene Burton-Betts, Trustee of the Peaceful Trust said: We along with Northfield Neighbourhood Management Team manage the community centre and we are always for hosting events such as this one.

"We like to support communities and provide the centre as a venue where everyone can come and hopefully have a good time.

"As a local charity and community centre we aim to facilitate other smaller projects in delivering services to those most vulnerable in society. We saw Schools Out For Summer as a worthwhile project which would benefit from our assistance.

Anne Callaghan, Senior parenting practitioner and volunteer for Schools Out For Summer said: " We promoted the event through social media and word of mouth and the response we have had has been excellent, its really good to know we are helping a lot of people and by hosting these sessions it is an eyeopener and makes us realise how many people need our help.

"We haven't turned anyone away and it also can be a place for parents and children to make friends and enjoy themselves"

Sonya Ward, Labour candidate for Mansfield was also present and said: "Childhood poverty should have been relegated a long time ago,but we know that in Mansfield 6,000 children are currently living in poverty.

"The problems we see now can only be addressed fully by investing in our region and re-balancing our economy, but in the meantime we cannot stand by and watch children in our community go hungry and do nothing"

To volunteer or to donate to "Schools Out For Summer" contact Janet on 07501737236.