Over this October half-term the communities of Wirral – in all their varied forms – are continuing to show renewed energy and commitment to supporting each other through crisis.
Since the start of the pandemic Wirral Council has been working closely with these community and voluntary organisations to make sure local residents get the help they need.
Uniquely at the time, one of the council’s first key decisions was to establish a humanitarian group, involving more than 100 different organisations - community food providers, community centres, faith groups, third sector agencies and more.
That collective way of working; the co-ordinated distribution of food support and meeting needs wherever they are identified is continuing and it is on that basis that packages of support, including but not only free school meals, are being provided this week at half-term.
The need for assistance over October half-term was identified over the summer and plans were put in place then for how the community could work with the council to provide that, for example:
- The Wirral COVID-19 Food and Essential Supplies Fund was set up by the council to allow groups to bid for up to £3,000 out of the £75,000 made available for specific projects.
- The council has also invested in other measures to support families in need of support with food, such as a £275,000 Welfare Assistance programme, the provision of a central food stock at a cost of £38,000 which can be accessed by families in greatest need and funding of £46,000 to support people with fuel payments, PPE costs and food storage/cooking equipment.
- The council funded free school meals directly in the Easter holidays at a cost of £386,000 and during May half term, when £240,000 was allocated for this purpose. Government funding was provided for food support over the summer holidays.
The council and partners are now working together to plan for the longer-term, for the Christmas and February half term periods, and are discussing with voluntary and community what funding will be needed for that. The outcome of these discussions will form the basis of a report to Policy and Resources Committee on the 11th November.