'It is not about stigmatising people' - MP visits South Shields club feeding youngsters during the school holidays
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck visited one of the clubs providing summer holiday activities and lunch for families who may be struggling.
The NECA Community Garden summer holiday club on Brockley Avenue Allotments, South Shields, welcomed Mrs Lewell-Buck to the club on Tuesday, August 10 as she paid a visit to see how things were going.
The South Shields MP says she set up a network in 2018 of all the local food banks to provide holiday fun programs throughout the likes of the Easter, Christmas and summer holidays.
The activity and lunch clubs have been running since then, but for the first time this year the Government has given money for the schemes to the council, rather than directly to the charity.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “The clubs always have massive attendance, there are always loads of kids and families going.
"It is not about stigmatising people, it’s about people being able to go somewhere and have fun and have something to eat with the kids."
The NECA Community Garden Summer Holiday Club is open to everyone, regardless of their circumstances, but does play a vital role in offering support to families who need it during the school holidays.
It offers youngsters the chance to take part in a range of free activities and sports including crafts, games and football, as well as popular visits to its chicken coop.
It also provides a free packed lunch for the children of families that would benefit.
On the need for such clubs to ease the pressure on families in the borough, Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “We have done it since 2018 and it's not getting any better.
“Things have got worse for people, through no fault of their own.
“It’s the Government’s responsibility to make sure that people have enough to get by on.
"This Government, through inaction on low-paid and insecure work, the cruelty of the benefit system and then the pandemic, people are in worse situations than ever before.
“This club is somewhere for people to go and have fun with their kids and they get a packed lunch or a barbecue.
“We have done it since 2018 and this was my regular visit to see how it is going.”
To see the activities available across the borough and to book visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/summer-holiday-club-33904460453