‘30 families couldn’t feed their children in school holidays’
AT least 30 families in receipt of free school meals have said that they were not able to feed their children during the school holidays.
In a motion submitted to a meeting of Rossendale council last Wednesday, Whitworth Councillor Alan Neal and Facit and Shawforth Councillor Tom Aldred outlined the plight of Valley families who have told them their children receive free school meals and that during the school holidays they cannot afford to feed them.
The pair have asked that the council write to Lancashire County Council and the National Association of Local Councils as well as central government to seek help and advice.
They said: “We wish to express our concerns that during the recent six weeks school holidays there has been contact from a number of families who have been struggling to feed their children since the introduction of Universal Credit.”
Coun Aldred added that foodbanks have been facing extra pressure as a result of families struggling. He said: “This, to me, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is a disgrace and if there’s anything that can be done then it ought to be done as a matter of urgency. I’m sure the same happens at half term, at Christmas and at Easter as well.
Outside of the meeting, Coun Neal said: “They are not people who have, say, ‘lifestyle issues’; we are talking about people where the husband or wife goes out to work.
“My concern is that if this is the problem in Whitworth is there a problem throughout Rossendale? There is something wrong with society when people are struggling to feed children. The children are basically going hungry.”
With Univesal Credit due to be rolled out in the rest of Rossendale in November, Coun Neal questioned whether similar issues would be faced by families elsewhere in the Valley. He said: “If we have got a problem in Whitworth we have a problem boroughwide.”
In response to the councillors’ motion, Council Leader Alyson Barnes vowed to have the authority’s officers look into the issue too.
She said: “I just think its an appalling state of affairs that young chil- dren are going back to school and they weigh less than when they started out.”
Twenty-seven councillors voted in favour of the motion, with Councillors Cheetham and Kostyan abstaining.
●●Councillors Alan Neal (left) and Tom Aldred highlighted the plight of Valley families