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As school holidays start, Oasis leads post-lockdown family recovery
with ‘Summer Sessions’ and free meals
This summer, Oasis Communiyt Hubs and Academies will be hosting a nationwide recovery programme of holiday activities for post-lockdown children and families.
Oasis UK, which runs 52 academies around England, is delivering Covid-19 compliant ‘Summer Sessions’ to help children from the lowest income families improve their mental health through social contact, physical and creative activities, and free meals.
Summer Sessions will run in Birmingham, Bristol, Croydon, Coulsdon, Grimsby, London, Manchester, Oldham, Salford, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Southampton and Worcester.
In one of its locations, Waterloo in South London, Oasis has formed a partnership with the Park Plaza Hotel – the largest hotel in London, which looks straight across the Thames at the Palace of Westminster and Parliament. “We’ll be cooking, serving and delivering meals each day from the kitchens of the hotel,” says Oasis UK Founder, Rev Steve Chalke.
“Although the Government’s decision to continue with Free School Meal vouchers throughout the summer in response to footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, was very welcome, it doesn’t get the whole job done. Children facing food poverty now number at least 3 million – almost three times the number who qualify for Free School Meals. That’s why emergency food will be a key part of our provision.
Supporting mental health and wellbeing
“Since mid-March, children and young people have had a hugely disrupted education, now they face another six weeks away from their friends and teachers and all the clubs and activities that schools normally provide,” says Chalke.
“Our aim is to help these young people and their families begin to enjoy much-needed social life and fun activities again. Many have been experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing, but as we all adjust to the new normal, we recognise the pressure and challenge for schools, local authorities and other agencies to provide enough support to the people who most need it. It’s an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ moment and we’re delighted to be able to respond in this way.”
Emergency food provision and more
Oasis’ education and community teams have been busy developing activities that can be run safely in Covid-19 conditions, including family sport and fitness, outdoor youth drama, scavenger hunts, socially distanced film events, informal learning, farm therapy, and art and crafts.
Many places will also offer a free daily lunch or weekly meal boxes as families continue to struggle to make ends meet. Figures from the Food Foundation charity suggest food insecurity in households with children has doubled during lockdown. The need for emergency food provision is still acute.
Last year, through its highly successful Plate Up campaign, Oasis ran summer Holiday Hunger clubs serving up 34,000 free lunches to children, many of whose families were reliant on free school meals. Post lockdown, the charity has grown the model for this year’s Summer Sessions to meet rising demand.
Household income figures 2018/19 show that 4.2million children live below the poverty line in the UK, making them at risk of food insecurity. 1.3m children in England are eligible for free school meals; a further 2m children in England will be at risk of hunger this holiday, whose families do not qualify for the FSM scheme. Numbers of those in poverty have increased through the Covid-19 pandemic. Full round up of reports and stats available here: https://www.sec-ed.co.uk/news/two-million-face-holiday-hunger-risk-despite-free-school-meal-vouchers-summer-extension-poverty-universal-credit-child-benefit/