Over £1m in funding will be used from December 2020 to the end of March 2021 and is designed to meet immediate needs and help those who are struggling to afford food and utility bills or other related essentials.
Rotherham Council will use the funding to:
- Make sure all eligible children in the borough receive vouchers to the value of free school meals for the Christmas and February half term holidays
- Provide additional support for the Rotherham Food in Crisis Partnership Christmas appeal, which is expected to provide food for 300 families requiring support this Christmas
- Extend eligibility for support with the purchase of school uniforms to more families facing financial difficulties
- Provide £250,000 to support households in financial need who are facing unexpected or unaffordable bills, to prevent them from falling into financial crisis, subject to engagement and support from the Council’s Advocacy and Appeals service or partners.
Council Leader, Cllr Chris Read, said: “We wanted to act quickly to ensure that families and our smallest businesses across Rotherham get some extra support in the run up to Christmas and over the winter months during the pandemic.
“It can be stressful time in any year. But the impacts of the COVID pandemic means that having what might be regarded as a normal Christmas is going to be difficult for many vulnerable and low-income families. After everything else that’s happened, this shouldn’t be the year to be worrying about the lack of free school meals, the cost of a new school jumper, or an unexpected electricity bill. Hopefully, by using this grant funding quickly, we can ease some of those worries and make sure that every child in the borough has the Christmas they deserve.
“At the same time, whilst we hope this small grant funding will give a little relief to the self-employed or others who have fallen through the cracks of other business support funding, we are acutely aware that it is only a little bit of relief. That is why I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government calling for a commitment to provide further support to areas like Rotherham, which have experienced a longer period of Tier 3 restrictions than most of the country.”
Almost £700,000 is being put forward to help fund school meals vouchers and provide help for families with school uniform.
The fund builds on the support provided by the Council during the Autumn half term to provide vouchers to families where children receive free school meals during term time.
Pepe Di’Iasio, Head Teacher at Wales High School, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic means that many families are facing uncertain times and this extra support will provide peace of mind to parents and carers that are concerned about providing food and clothes over the winter months.”
Each year, the Rotherham Food in Crisis Partnership runs a Christmas appeal supported by Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR), working with VCS foodbanks.
£30,000 is being proposed to be allocated from the Winter Grant to part support the programme this year.
Teresa Brocklehurst, Director of Services (Infrastructure) at Voluntary Action Rotherham and Chair of the FiC Partnership said: “The pandemic has tipped households who were just about managing to make ends meet into facing the prospect of a really bleak time, as incomes reduce further and basic costs rise.
“The funding is a great boost and every penny donated will go to helping those in particular need this festive period to bring some cheer through the provision of special parcels to top up basic supplies with those items that will make a big difference during this difficult time.”
The funding is part of a £170m
Images: Rotherham Foodbank