South Shields mum praises ‘badly needed’ holiday hunger scheme after Universal Credit left her 'worse off than ever'

A mum has hailed an ‘amazing’ holiday hunger scheme after Universal Credit and benefit changes left her family in need.

By Sarah Sinclair
Friday, 09 August, 2019, 11:45
Allison Bissett (R) and her son, Willow (OK), 3 with Councillor Moira Smith at Biddick Hall and Whiteleas Children’s Centre

Allison Bissett, who lives in Whiteleas, said controversial changes had left her family ‘worse off then ever’ – meaning initiative which is providing free meals to children throughout the long summer holidays is much welcome.

The first week of the scheme, introduced to tackle holiday hunger and ease pressure on struggling families, saw more than 800 children being fed and entertained at centres across the borough.

“This scheme is badly needed because more people than ever before need help,” said Allison, who’s three-year-old son Willow has benefited from the free lunch and activities.

Allison Bissett (L) and her son, Willow (OK), 3 with Councillor Moira Smith at Biddick Hall and Whiteleas Children’s Centre

“Since the changes to the benefit system and the introduction of Universal Credit, we are worse off as a family than we have ever been.”

Allison, who volunteers four days a week for food bank and crisis response centre, Hebburn Helps, is all too aware of the problems facing struggling families.

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She added: “Some people have to make the choice between putting a roof over their head or feeding their family.

“That why I absolutely welcome this initiative from the Council. It’s vital that as a community we come together.”

Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We have received a lot of positive feedback on this scheme and it is good to know that families appreciate our efforts to give all our young people the best start in life.

“We have only been able to provide this project thanks to the commitment and goodwill of our staff and partners. We have not received any government money to fund this scheme.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to all those who are helping with this initiative. This scheme simply could not have gone ahead without their support and goodwill.”

The clubs are open to children up to the age of 16 at the following venues: Millennium PHAB Club, Hedworthfield Community Association, Riverside Children's Centre, Biddick Hall and Whiteleas Children's Centre, Marine Park Children's Centre, Horsley Hill Children's Centre, Boldon Children's Centre, Simonside Climbing Wall and Whitburn Parish Church Hall.