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Worcester Council: free school meal vouchers

Worcester City Council is making free meal vouchers available over the Christmas period to nursery and sixth form children who qualify for free school meals.

The City Council will use part of the £190,000 Household Support Fund cash it has received from the Government to pay for the vouchers. Separately, vouchers for school-age children are being provided by Worcestershire County Council.

The City Council will also use money from the Fund to back a range of other initiatives that will help people through the cost-of-living crisis, including a major donation to the city’s Foodbank and assistance to help people on low incomes with their energy bills.

Councillor Stephen Hodgson, Vice Chair of the City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Committee, said:

“The rising costs of living mean that many people will not be able to enjoy the Christmas they wanted, so I am very pleased that the City Council has been able to step in and offer this support.”

The Council will use £25,000 of the £189,089 it has received from the Fund to pay for the children’s meal vouchers.

For qualifying children aged 16-18, the vouchers will be provided through their college or high school. Parents should contact the college or high school with any queries.

Parents of qualifying pre-school children should talk to nursery staff about the scheme and ask them to contact the City Council. Residents whose children don’t use a nursery or who have previously claimed meal vouchers through a health visitor should contact Worcester City Council at community@worcester.gov.uk or 01905 722233.

The City Council will donate £50,000 to Worcester Foodbank to enable them to bulk-buy food and essentials up to March next year, for distribution to city families who may not otherwise be able to put food on the table.

A further £50,000 will be used to boost the City Council’s existing Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme, which supports vulnerable low-income Worcester households in crisis who need help with the cost of food, energy or white goods. This will help meet an increased demand on the scheme.

Help will also be provided to households in private rented accommodation who are at risk of becoming homeless because of problems paying their rent or other issues. £30,000 has been set aside to provide grants to landlords and help families stay in their rented homes.

A £25,000 crisis fund is also set to be established, to pay for emergency support for people who need immediate assistance. This will be provided by the City Council’s partner agencies, including Onside Advocacy, Worcester Community Trust, Age UK Worcester and District, Worcester Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) and Maggs Day Centre, with a further £5,000 set aside to help the charities administer this fund.

Finally, just over £4,000 is to be used for a targeted multi-media campaign to raise awareness of the support that is available for city residents who are most in need.

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