Preston people have rallied round after Conservative MPs voted against extending free school meals for deprived children during the holidays.Advertisement
Existing support is being added to by local people who have been inspired to help, as Covid-19 continues to impact families across the city.
Sisters Georgia Speariett from Ingol and Shannon Speariett from Deepdale, are two of those helping out. Together they run a business from home called Box O’Joy, selling a variety of goody bags and pamper boxes.
Georgia said: “We don’t really make profit from the items we sell, we just do it to keep ourselves busy and make people smile. But we have also decided to start giving out food and toiletry hampers to those in need this half term.
“Parents did really rely on the free meal vouchers to ensure children were having decent meals. Without those, how do we know how many children are going hungry?
“My sister and I are both mothers to two children, and we know what it’s like to struggle. Children are innocent and have no control over any of this. They shouldn’t suffer.”
To access help from Georgia and Shannon, contact them via the Box O’ Joy Facebook page.
Others stepping forward include The Larder in Lancaster Road, Toni’s Pizza in Plungington Road, Box Kitchen in Fishergate, and Top Cafe in Ribbleton Lane.
Read more: How this Preston woman is fighting child hunger with free breakfasts
Nina Di Niro, whose dad Giovanni runs Toni’s Pizza in Plungington, said: “My dad will never say it himself, but he’s one of the most generous people around.
“When we closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, he was worried and didn’t know what to expect. When we did reopen we were all so nervous that our customers might’ve gone elsewhere, but we were massively wrong. The community rallied around us and now this is the perfect opportunity to try and give a little back.
“It’s 2020 and we’re in the midst of a pandemic, no kids should be starving. If we can stop one child from going hungry then we’ve done our best to try and help.”
Ashton-based community group Preston Here for Humanity already runs a free hot food service for the city’s most vulnerable residents, but is now looking to help school children.
Ruby Abram for the group said: “As sad as it is true it has fallen down to the community again to support the most vulnerable.
“We will be trialling a pilot scheme that we hope to run through all school holidays, and that’s to provide a free meal to children who would normally receive one at school.
“We will be providing a free dinner to school children in Ashton-on-Ribble and Plungington next week. If you want to take part in this to take away a bit of the pressure then please message Community Owned on Facebook stating which school your child attends.”
Read more: Preston community group and local eateries restart free hot meals for the vulnerable
On Friday (23 October), Preston City Council tweeted: “Following the decision in Parliament this week we’ll continue to work with community and faith groups to help struggling families in the city.
“Preston Together brings together a range of community groups supported by the Council.
“There are 20 holiday markets who are working hard to provide over 14,000 meals during the holidays. There are also eight food banks, five food pantries and four community hot meal schemes operating during the week who can support families in need.”
Read more: Much needed funds donated to Preston foodbank during lockdown
Leader of Preston City Council Councillor Matthew Brown, said: “We continue to work with faith and community groups to support struggling families in Preston and are grateful for their help and generosity.
“If you or someone you know is struggling please get in touch.”
To find out more about how to access support, visit Preston City Council’s Preston Together webpage, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01772 906777.
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What do you think of local people trying to help those in need? Do you know someone helping who we should add to this article? Let us know in the comments.