It’s the classic parent dilemma. Keeping the kids busy – and out of trouble – through the summer holidays. Add to that the constant question about keeping food on the table while schools are closed. Can Quids in!’s agony aunt help?
I’m really worried about how I’m going to afford to feed my two kids as the summer holidays start. I’m a single mum and work part-time, so I can’t afford to take days off. When they’re not at school, they get bored and misbehave. Are there any free clubs I can send them to? I’m at the end of my tether.
Nicky (received via quidsinmagazine.com)
Thanks for getting in touch Nicky, hopefully this will help to ease your concerns.
It sounds like your children qualify for free school meals. (If you’re not sure, check here! The school gets extra cash for each child that claims.) If they do, hopefully you have already applied to the Summer Covid Food Fund which should help towards feeding your kids over the six-week break. The vouchers are £90 across the six-week holiday, but increase to £105 if the school is closed for seven-weeks.
The good news is that summer clubs are now back up and running in most parts of the country. Providers of community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children is now allowed. Many will operate over the summer holiday with extra safety measures in place.
Check what is going on in your local area. Is there a community centre or youth club? Group sizes will be smaller than usual to keep within the health and safety guidelines for coronavirus, so get in touch as soon as possible.
Search online for ‘summer food clubs’ in your local area. Depending on where you live, there are a number of Summer Food Clubs taking place during the holidays. As part of the Mayor’s Fund for London, Lambeth and Southwark Councils are hosting a programme from 22nd July to 2nd September. They aim to make sure children, young people and their families or carers get access to free, nutritious meals over the summer. To sign up you need to live in one of the boroughs and fill out this form.
Many children’s centres can help too, so look up their websites or drop them an email. Bright Start Children’s Centre Services have launched Food Clubs across Bath and North East Somerset. The clubs provide local families, with children under 11yrs, a range of affordable food every week. For more information on the clubs click here.
In Wales the ‘Food and Fun’ School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) provides meals and activities for children from low income families. The government scheme operates across all boroughs so contact your local authority, or email SHEP@wlga.gov.uk.
Another option is to approach your local Food Bank. You usually need a voucher which you can exchange at the food bank for three days’ worth of food. You can get the vouchers from local charities, doctors’ surgeries, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice and welfare advice centres. You can find out where your nearest food bank is by typing your postcode or area into the search box on the Trussell Trust website.
Lastly are there any friends or family you could turn to for some support? Perhaps another parent at your children’s school is in the same boat and you could share childcare for a couple of hours a week? Ask at your child’s school or if you have any friendly neighbours, they may also be able to help out.
If you are still struggling or need to speak to someone who can help, check out Gingerbread. They are a charity for single mums and dads in England and Wales. They have some good advice about taking time off work to look after your children at this time. They offer single parent support groups or a free online chat group with other single parents.
I hope this helps, Nicky. Remember you are not alone and there is a lot of support out there for people in your position.