Parents struggling to feed their kids during the school break are to be given a helping hand by a team of volunteers who have launched a summer holiday lunch club.
Jo Durkin and Angie Comerford, from Hebburn Helps, are hoping the move will help relieve some of the financial pressure faced by parents during the six-weeks holiday.
Last year, the women handed out 1,047 packed lunches to youngsters from families struggling to make ends meet during the summer break.
Now, with the help of a £3,500 government grant they are hoping to step up the provision during the school holidays by providing meals twice a week and a range of activities to help keep youngsters entertained.
Jo said: “As a parent I know the feeling when it comes to the school holidays of wondering where you are going to get the extra money from - even a trip down the beach if you have two or three children can become an expensive day out, especially when money is already tight.
“We’re already getting a lot of families, who are already struggling coming to us, really worried about the school holidays.”
We’re already getting a lot of families, who are already struggling coming to us, really worried about the school holidays.Jo Durkin
Around 22% of youngsters in South Tyneside are eligible to receive free school meals.
A council spokesman said: “We work closely with our third sector partners who run schemes over the school holidays and beyond to help families who struggle to make ends meet.
“To support these organisations, we provide a wide range of kitchen equipment as well as free training on food handling to help them carry out their valuable work.
“We recognise the vital work carried out by our community groups and charities and are committed to helping them as much as we can.”
Angie said: “We are finding more and more people are coming to us, some of them in desperate situations with no idea where their next meal is coming from.
“This is the first time we have ran a scheme like this and we are expecting around 30-40 kids through the doors each time.”
Alongside the club sessions, parents will also have the opportunity to pick up school uniforms that have been donated to Hebburn Helps.
The Grub Club will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays at St Oswald’s Church Hall, Hebburn from 10am until 3pm.
As well as food, there will also be a range of activities on during that time for young people to get involved in.
All children must be accompanied on their first visit by a parent, while those under eight must be accompanied at all times.
For more details visit hebburnhelps.co.uk