As part of the support being put in place across Essex, funding has been given to develop our successful Holiday Hunger programme and Summer Holiday Activity club programme, engaging and supporting young people most in need.
Working with the Active Essex Foundation network of locally trusted organisations, we will be able to target families to provide them with the opportunity to become more active and eat healthy. The two successful programmes, will be delivered during Christmas, February and May half term as well as supporting working parents and families struggling financially through our Easter and Summer holiday activity clubs.
Essex County Council is to invest £3.7m of COVID-19 related funding from government and £200k of its own funds to support the most vulnerable in our communities through the winter and beyond.
Building on work to date, including Essex Wellbeing Service, Active Essex Foundation holiday hunger programmes and Active Essex successful summer camp activity schemes in July, August and October half term, ECC has pulled together a further package of comprehensive support for those who need help during these difficult times.
Vulnerable people’s needs are expected to change as we enter another lockdown. Those living in more deprived areas will be more acutely affected and the county council is targeting support for communities and individuals across Essex. Mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependency are known to be on the rise so extra help will be put in place.
The support programme will allow for more resources from the county council to be directed to help adults, children and families. The roll out will include the expansion of our holiday hunger programme through to the summer 2021, additional investment in foodbanks, financial assistance for local grass-root organisations and greater levels of advice and support to ensure that Essex residents have a point of contact and a source for advice.
Planned support includes:
- Crisis help: £623,000 for:
- direct support for individuals or families in financial crisis, via food vouchers, energy, bills and white goods, provided by Essex Essential Living Fund
- discretionary hardship funds to support people required to self-isolate who don’t qualify for the government scheme
- volunteer practical and emotional support to vulnerable individuals and families from Essex Wellbeing Service
- Food: £866,500 distributed via Active Essex Foundation and Essex Association of Local Councils for
- Extra capacity for food banks
- Holiday Hunger Clubs to support children and their families with food packages and activity clubs in the Christmas, half terms and Easter school holidays – up to summer 2021.
- Essential food packages for care leavers.
- Targeted support for vulnerable families.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable: £910,000 new Government funding to meet basic support needs, food and essentials for those most vulnerable due to Covid.
- Homelessness: £627,000 new funding to provide safe, long-term homes for rough sleepers and others vulnerable to homelessness
- Mental health and emotional support: £555,000 – for mental health, domestic violence, alcohol and substance misuse services to help people in crisis or experiencing poor mental health and issues due to the pandemic.
- Grassroots clubs and activities for children and young people – £134,500 for grants to groups facing financial crisis due to lost income or exceptional costs of making their activities COVID safe. ECC will fund support via the borough, city and district councils who will use local knowledge to distribute the funds to groups within their communities.
- Vital support agencies including the Citizens Advice Bureau will receive a total of £212,500. This money will support community and voluntary organisations and infrastructure agencies.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said: “This package of support is very comprehensive in its offer and in many cases will provide a lifeline to people during these difficult times. Our approach is to target those most in need and ensure that the support networks are there so that people are given the advice and guidance that they need.
Lockdowns are difficult for everyone, however, for some the situation is particularly acute. Our investment in foodbanks and holiday hunger programmes will be invaluable to some families this winter. In addition, it is vitally important that families are able to keep warm. Tackling fuel poverty and winter pressures are key to ensuring that children and their families stay safe.
As we found with the previous lockdown, prevalence of mental health conditions is on the rise, and certainly with colder weather on its way, there will be less opportunity for people to get out and about. This is why intervention around mental health and supporting those grassroots clubs and activities are so vital at this time. This package demonstrates ECC’s commitment to targeting support to the most vulnerable at this tough time.”
Active Essex, the Active Essex Foundation and the Essex Local Delivery Pilot are pleased to be able to continue to strive to provide physical activity opportunities for families and young people over the last year.
A parent whose family attended last summer’s Holiday Hunger programme said: “It has meant that we’ve been able to get out the house. The kids love the activities provided, and the food is always lovely. It’s given us a routine and somewhere to go, a safe place for children of all ages at no expensive outlay. It’s important for places like this to be available in all areas.”