Opinion: ‘Food voucher scheme still ongoing’

Wayne Fitzgerald, Conservative Group leader on Peterborough City Council and leader of the council writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 1st August 2021, 1:40 pm
Eligible families will receive food vouchers to support them during the summer holidays.
Eligible families will receive food vouchers to support them during the summer holidays.

Although my school days were a while ago now, like many of us, I fondly remember the long summer holidays.

Today’s youngsters have just been through an extremely challenging period, and I hope they are currently enjoying a well-earned break and staying safe.

As a council we will do all we can to support everyone in local education and that’s why we are extending a scheme which provides food vouchers for families of children receiving free school meals in Peterborough into the summer holidays.

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These vouchers will go a long way to helping children and their families cope with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and I know they will make a real difference to those families who need it most.

The vouchers – which will automatically be sent to eligible families – are a continuation of the scheme which operated in previous school holidays and half term breaks.

However, the level of funding from the government has been reduced to less than half the original Christmas holiday grant, so the scheme has been revised accordingly for the summer holidays.

Two £30 supermarket vouchers will therefore be issued by email and text to the nominated parent or carer. The vouchers do not need to be used in a single shopping trip and once claimed will last for at least a year.

It is important that potentially eligible families who do not already receive free school meals apply as soon as possible, so they can be allocated the Direct Food Vouchers.

Queries in relation to free school meal entitlement can be emailed to the Education Welfare Benefits Team on [email protected] or by telephoning them on 01223 703200.

And don’t forget that Peterborough City Council’s Community Hub is in place to be able to help families access further support, whether that be financial or help with everyday tasks such as food shopping.

Details can be found at www.peterborough.gov.uk/wintersupport and they can be contacted on 0345 045 5219 from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

Once again, I would like to remind people of the vital importance of getting the Covid vaccine.

Our take-up rates in Peterborough are currently lower than the national average for both doses - around 68 per cent of people aged over 18 have had the first dose here and 50 per cent have had the second.

Getting the vaccine is the single biggest thing you can do to prevent yourself from catching and spreading the virus.

Nobody can predict with certainty what the next few weeks will bring, but you will no doubt have seen stories about the possibility of vaccine passports to attend large-scale events in future, such as football matches and concerts, or even for holidays abroad. So not only will getting the vaccine help keep you safe, it could enable you to do some of the things you’ve missed out on. It really is the sensible thing to do.

I took over as council leader from John Holdich earlier this year and was delighted to hear that John has been recommended to receive the city’s highest honour – the Freedom of the City of Peterborough.

The same honour is recommended for the Peterborough branch of the Royal British Legion, who, as many will know, work tirelessly to raise funds for the annual Poppy Appeal.

John Holdich served this city with distinction for many years, achieving several notable successes. We all miss his affable presence and I think it is only fitting that he receives this unique and prestigious honour.

It is also proposed to award Mr Holdich with the status of Honorary Alderman, along with four other long-serving former councillors - Chris Ash, David Seaton, Darren Fower and Diane Lamb.

To be considered for the honour a person should have been re-elected for at least three terms and served a minimum of 11 years.

And finally, along with some fellow councillors and city MP Paul Bristow, I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the Gurdwara Baba Budha Sahib Ji Sikh temple on Sunday.

We joined the city’s Sikh community in celebrating the life of the 9th Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji and were made to feel especially welcome.

We have a special, strong and caring Sikh community in our city and Peterborough is a proud multi-cultural place where diversity is rightly celebrated.

I would like to thank everyone involved in our visit.