Cheshire East Council, with the help of schools, colleges, early years settings and other family support services across the borough are distributing vouchers worth £880,000 on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. They will go to the most vulnerable children and families to pay for essentials such as food and energy during the winter months.
The money is Cheshire East’s share of the government’s £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, which is available from now until the end of March 2021. The fund aims to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking, lighting), water bills and other essentials.
More than 11,000 children and young people have already been identified by the council and will receive their vouchers over the next few weeks. These families will receive their vouchers via schools, colleges, early years settings and by a host of support services.
Professionals are also able to request support for families that need it. Any families in need are asked to speak to someone they are working with such as a GP, teacher or support worker, who can request the vouchers on their behalf.
Families may also be eligible for support through free school meals, which can be applied for online at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/fsm
For emergency assistance Cheshire East has a host of food banks that operate across the borough which can be found by visiting www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and searching for ‘food banks’.
Councillor Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for our most vulnerable children and families and these vouchers will go some way to help put food on the table and pay for other essentials over the winter months.
“Using this fund, the Department for Work and Pensions has allowed us to directly offer swift support to more than 11,000 children living in vulnerable households across Cheshire East, who have suffered financial hardship due to Covid, ensuring that no child goes hungry and that they can be kept warm and safe.
“We, together with our schools, colleges, early years providers, and other partners, know which groups are in most need and the vouchers will be distributed directly to those families, who have been identified.
“My pledge is that we will work together with the local community and businesses to maximise the help that is available, ensuring that we respect families’ right to have choice and offer directly the most practical help that they will need over the coming months.
“If any family with children finds themselves in need, I urge you to apply for free school meals or speak to a trusted professional.’’