City of Bath comes together to tackle holiday hunger

06 Jul 2021

Bath Rugby Foundation has been asked to scale up its holiday hunger programme ‘Breakout’ to help battle growing support for child food poverty in B&NES.  

The charity is working across B&NES with Bath Area Play Project, Youth Connect South West, and many other partners to deliver summer holiday activities and nutritious food for children, families and young people most in need.

A total of 12,000 fun and powerful ‘Breakout’ sessions will run, reaching the 4,000+ children in B&NES who currently receive free school meals.  

BreakOut sessions will run from Monday 26th July to Friday 27th August in Keynsham, Larkhall, Midsomer Norton, Odd Down, Paulton, Peasedown, Radstock, and Twerton for children, families, and teenagers.  

One in every five children live in poverty in Bath and North East Somerset, with areas such as Twerton, and Whiteway ranking in amongst the top 1% most deprived areas in the country.  

When schools break up for the summer, you’d expect most children to feel relief; a care-free summer is ahead, but for over 4,000 children in our community, the loss of their school day also means the loss of their school meal.  

Families already battling daily with low budgets face the added pressure of paying for additional holiday childcare and the heart-breaking reality that there isn’t enough money to pay for the additional food.  

Working across B&NES at multiple hubs, Bath Rugby Foundation, Bath Area Play Project and Youth Connect South West are leading the charge to tackle holiday hunger. Partners will be uniting our city to deliver a fun and powerful package of summer activities, and nutritious food, aimed at the 4000 children, young people and families in the area entitled to free school meals.  

A total of 12,000 ‘Breakout’ sessions will run from Monday 26th July to Friday 27th August in Keynsham, Larkhall, Midsomer Norton, Odd Down, Paulton, Peasedown, Radstock and, Twerton for children, families, and teenagers.  

Shocking data reveals that in the past nine months alone, over 900,000 additional children in the UK have been registered to receive free school meals.   

Professional footballer Marcus Rashford’s recent campaign to end child food poverty, unlocked a £220 million Government support package for children on free school meals over the school holidays.  

Bath Rugby Foundation, Bath Area Play Project and Youth Connect South have been awarded the full allocation of this funding by Bath and North East Somerset Council, which is available as a direct result of Rashford’s campaign.   

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Lynne Fernquest, Bath Rugby Foundation, CEO said;  

“It is proven that if a child experiences hunger for a prolonged period during the school holidays that the inequality already in existence between children from wealthier and poorer backgrounds grows even wider.  

“To make this story even harder to hear, those young people most at risk of holiday hunger are more likely to suffer from social isolation and, loneliness.   

“The devastating impact of the pandemic on the mental and physical health of families on low incomes, disengaged teenagers and young adults is only now starting to become clear. Our uncomfortable truth is that we live in one of the most unequal cities in the UK. We are not immune to the child hunger crisis that our country is facing right now and ultimately, we must address the root cause of this through policy reform. That is imperative.   

“However, there is a glimmer of hope. I have seen first-hand the incredible difference a community can make when it comes together to solve its problems. Right now, I am proud to say that we are doing just that, and change is happening.”  

Bath Rugby Foundation’s holiday hunger programmes have been running for the past four years providing safe spaces over the school holidays for children, teenagers, and families to break free from their usual challenges, enjoy play, learn new skills, and share a meal together.  

Holiday programmes like BreakOut have six key advantages and are fundamental to areas like Bath and North East Somerset where one in every five children live in poverty and where areas such as Twerton and Whiteway ranking in amongst the top 1% most deprived areas in the country.   Six key advantages of BreakOut  
  1. Opportunities for children, young people, and families to be more active, eat more healthily and socialise.   
  1. Financial reprieve for families with very low incomes.  
  1. Building confidence and life skills, providing a pathway to a brighter future.  
  1. Improving physical and mental health, giving children a better chance when returning to school.  
  1. Signposting towards other information and support, for families such as health, education, and employment.  
  1. Improving a child’s quality of life, growing their chances of completing their education.  

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City of Bath comes together to tackle holiday hunger
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