There is no FUNDED support from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Councils for parents of children normally receiving free school meals despite the Conservatives telling residents there is £193,736 in support. There isn’t! Any previous funding received for Covid-19 support in June is long gone.
The LibDem/Independents provide nothing other than warm words and directions to the foodbank via the Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB). Why isn’t this in there statement. Instead of raising expectations and wasting parents time on the phone to two agencies? It is therefore pointless calling the council and spending 5-10mins just for them to give you the CAB number to wait for a reply which may take up to 2 days. I called and received a reply within three hours. The foodbank number is 01642 484842.
I want to send my deep gratitude to the businesses and volunteers in our region who have been so generous with providing food, their time and transport distribution. Many of them were also there supporting our key workers earlier in the year and I wish to say, “You are heroes, inspirational and deserve our heartfelt praise. Thank you all so very much.”
We have seen some incredible acts of leadership and support from proactive councils and businesses the length and breadth of this country not accepting of the government’s failure and not willing to sit back and watch our most vulnerable children and families try to survive without support. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Redcar & Cleveland.
Sadly there is nothing heroic about the woolly statement the Lib/Dem/Independents have put out. There is nothing inspirational about leadership watching how this plays out and reacting when the holiday period is already on top of these families. It has taken almost a week for them to point at the Conservatives and then to the council’s general phone number for belated support unknown.
What was this support? Would it be a trick or treat over Halloween? Funded support or directions to the foodbank?
It’s directions to the Foodbank and they can’t even do that right! Councillors weren’t advised so we didn’t know what to tell parents. Nothing was announced to us so we couldn’t advise our wards. What we do know is as Corporate Parents, children are our number one priority and this inaction was not good enough. Calling the general council number provided the realisation is that they are not supporting directly and provide a middleman to get you to the foodbank. You will be directed to foodbanks via the Citizen Advice Bureau which can take up to two days to find out. The foodbank number is 01642 484842, so save yourself time and heartache and call direct. Please do not be embarrassed many people rely on foodbanks today. If you need this help please get it. Food is in plenty supply at the foodbank so please do not go without.
Child poverty has risen by 600,000 since 2012 and is expected to grow by a further million by 2022. Two thirds suffering child poverty are from working families. The Conservative government have been complicit in overseeing this unenviable rise by stripping funding and support away. Their policies have seen Redcar & Cleveland lose up to £93 million and the decline of family support. They are sending this country backwards, to a Dickensian world where we are more reliant on philanthropist and charities than state help.
Redcar and Cleveland council say they are in the process of planning for dealing with this issue over the Christmas holidays. So far not a cheery festive message. Halloween wasn’t so special. We’ll be watching closely to see what Santa brings.
The Council Statement via Mary Lanigan, Leader of the Council below, simply directs parents to the general council telephone number, thereafter advises to call the automated Citizen Advice Bureau number who then tells parents to contact the foodbank!
“Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council is urging the Government in Westminster to reverse its decision not to fund free school meals over the holidays. However, we recognise the need in the meantime to step in to help those families. Parents and carers finding it difficult to provide sufficient food for a child or children over the half-term holiday are able to contact the council on 01642 774774 for advice and support.
“The council applauds some of our fantastic businesses who have stepped up to offer support to struggling families, including providing free meals or even hampers to some families.
We are also in the process of planning for dealing with this issue over the Christmas holidays.”