During these unprecedented times, the charity behind Southport Foodbank has been aiming to reach families who have traditionally felt a sense of reluctance to rely on food projects.
An example is that a sample bag has been sent to around 100 families via primary schools locally for those mainly who have recently joined the free school meals system and are naturally unfamiliar with entitlements and options for advice. This includes the non-judgmental in-house debt and benefits advice offered Compassion Acts.
Another example is the emergence of good working partnership working Meols Cop High School on Norwood Road which has been forged over the last 12 months – especially Compassion Acts was able to support Meols Cop’s community food drive in summer 2020 with surplus food stock. A whole pallet of food items from a national wholesaler has been ordered by Compassion Acts for the school to distribute in February 2021 half term.
Richard Owens, CEO of Compassion Acts, said: “We are aware that the need is growing among families this was illustrated by the massive increase in the number of families accessing our services. So we wanted to move resources to the point where its easiest for people, and given the travel restrictions of lockdown, that will be their local school”
This term, after feedback from the school’s pastoral team about the difficulties faced by families in High Park getting to foodbank sessions, the charity has shortened the process for foodbank referrals so that the school is empowered to refer and distribute its own on-site foodbank.
The Youth & Community Centre which sits on the school’s grounds have been very supportive also supporting delivering the food to families who most need it.
Mr Parry, Headteacher of Meols Cop said “This pandemic has put the spotlight on so many challenges that our families are facing. It has been valuable to develop working relationships with partners who understand these challenges better than anyone. Through working with Compassion Acts and the team from the Youth Community Partnership we have now not only been able to support in the short term but also explore more long term sustainable support”
As has been widely publicised nationally with campaigns by footballer Marcus Rashford and others, it is school holidays which are particularly challenging for parents. Therefore, Compassion Acts and headteachers of local schools, including Mr Parry are pursuing every avenue of cooperation with Sefton Council and others to see what could happen in the long summer holidays.