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Free lunches project launched in Norwich to tackle holiday hunger

PUBLISHED: 13:20 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:20 26 July 2018

Volunteers from Unite Community Norfolk giving out free meals, in Mile Cross, during the school holidays. Darrell Hall handing over food to Deimante Dubosiene and her son Majus, 1.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Volunteers from Unite Community Norfolk giving out free meals, in Mile Cross, during the school holidays. Darrell Hall handing over food to Deimante Dubosiene and her son Majus, 1. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

For youngsters, it is a relaxing school-free spell - but for many families the six-week break can be something of a challenge.

Volunteers from Unite Community Norfolk giving out free meals, in Mile Cross, during the school holidays. Left to right, Geraldine Murray, Darrell Hall, Marion Fallon.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYVolunteers from Unite Community Norfolk giving out free meals, in Mile Cross, during the school holidays. Left to right, Geraldine Murray, Darrell Hall, Marion Fallon. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

With activities to plan, childcare to factor in and more meals to buy, costs often rise sharply during the holiday.

So, with that in mind, a Norwich community group has launched a new initiative to provide lunch for families struggling to buy food for their children.

The Norfolk Unite Community, part of the Unite Union, launched the project in Mile Cross earlier this week to make sure no-one goes hungry.

Based at St Catherine’s Church on Aylsham Road, it will provide a packed lunch for those in need, with, one of its organisers said, no questions asked.

Darrell Hall, chairman of the Norfolk branch, said thousands of families around the country were likely to lose free school meals in September due to changes to Universal Credit.

He said: “I remember seeing teachers at two or three schools in the north doing the same, and with the Universal Credit changes where a lot of people will lose subsidised school lunches we wanted to do something similar here to help out.”

He said they spoke to Stuart Allen, headteacher at nearby Mile Cross Primary School, to get an idea of interest, and are preparing enough for 20 to 30 lunches while the scheme gains momentum.

“We don’t want to be an answer to the problem,” he said, “but we do want to raise awareness of it.

“The whole problem is that groups like this have to help, so it’s not an answer, but we still want to do something. For some families six weeks is a long time.”

He said they were there to support families who would struggle to afford food for their children, but that it was not a means-tested service and that no questions would be asked.

And, while the project is very much in its infancy, he said there could be scope to introduce it in the Christmas break.

Unite will be handing out the meals from 12pm to 1pm during weekdays in the summer break.

The issues of holiday hunger has been debated at a national level in recent months, after a Scottish council revealed it would provide free meals to children in need every day of the year.

The North Lanarkshire decision is the first of its kind in the UK.


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