Volunteers provide more than 2,000 food hand-outs for children in South Tyneside to tackle rising school holiday hunger
A volunteer-run holiday hunger initiative has faced its biggest demand yet, feeding more than 100 children in South Tyneside this summer.
The Grub Club, set up by Jo Durkin and Angie Comerford of Hebburn Helps, for families who struggle to put an extra meal on the table during the school holidays, has provided 683 meals and 1,300 packed lunches over the six-week period.
Hebburn Helps received £3,500 of Government funding to launch the project in 2018, however this year South Tyneside was one of a number local authorities to miss out on the money.
Instead, £3,000 from a Crowdfunding campaign led by South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, and the generosity of the local community have allowed the scheme to continue, with volunteers saying they have seen an even greater demand this year.
“It’s been a crazy summer, there’s been a lot more meals go out the door,” said Angie.
“It’s a shame its needed, but it’s lucky it’s there. At least we know we’re putting a little dent in the poverty.”
The twice-weekly club has provided more than 1,300 packed lunches and on August 21, took 98 people, including 58 children, on a day trip to Scarborough.
On Wednesday, August 28 the Club hosted a children's disco to mark the end of the summer, before they return in October half-term.
“A lot of the children wouldn’t have been able to do anything at all this summer, never mind going on a trip, and all of the activities that we’ve provided,” Angie continued.
The scheme is also helping to tackle social isolation in among the parents and bringing the community together, says Angie.
“Some of the mums, the only conversation they are going to get every day is a child’s conversation. They make friends and the little ones make friends, it’s lovely.
“The feedback has been fantastic, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Angie added: “We’ve had ups and downs, but the community are always there and we’ve brought back a lot of community spirit, which is nice to have been a part of.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure.”