As child poverty in Manchester spikes, the UKFast Community and Education Trust today announces it is tripling the scope of a project that provided 23,000 meals for children living in hardship across Greater Manchester in 2018.
The bulk of new funding is allocated to delivering more than 67,000 meals for children to alleviate so-called ‘holiday hunger’ – a situation in which families are unable to afford the additional meals required to sustain children when school-funded meals are unavailable.
The move sees the recently created UKFast Community and Education Trust commit funds to Bolton Lads and Girls Club, One Manchester Housing Association, Holy Name RC Primary School, Martenscroft Nursery and The Dean Trust Ardwick.
Funding at The Dean Trust Ardwick will support the creation of a hardship fund to provide breakfasts, fruit, sanitary products, deodorant and PE kits for children who don’t otherwise have access to them. Teachers at the school often buy these items out of their own pockets.
The Holy Name RC Primary School funding is earmarked to provide a breakfast club for pupils during term time.
More than 45% of children in the Manchester Local Authority area now live in poverty, according to the latest data from End Child Poverty. The organisation’s research shows that poverty is rising more quickly in inner city areas like Manchester and Birmingham, suggesting that inequality continues to grow.
UKFast MD Gail Jones said: “Looking at poverty statistics in the region, it’s clear that the issue of holiday hunger is still incredibly pressing. The summer holidays are supposed to be a time of fun and making memories for families, but we’re seeing the increased costs just adding more pressure to parents and making it more difficult to make ends meet.
“Hearing that the loss of free school meals over the holidays can lead to a child losing half a stone in weight is simply unbearable. That’s when we knew we had to step in and do something.
“Through our work with schools and young people, we see that poor nutrition has a huge number of negative consequences for children, including making it difficult to focus in lessons or get the most out of the activities they take part in. This only perpetuates the problem.
“Projects like Bolton Lads and Girls Club provide affordable childcare and meaningful activities throughout the holidays, and we’re proud to support them to ensure the young people who attend are well fed and get the most out of their time there.”
UKFast is appealing to businesses within the region to use their resources and do more to support those living in poverty.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones MBE added: “Businesses have significant resources available to them and it’s our responsibility as business owners to use them to support the communities we live and work in. I’d urge all businesses, no matter what size, to look at how they can help people in their local community.”