The word “holiday” has become one which some children, and their hard-pressed parents, have come to dread.
That’s according to a prospective London Assembly candidate, Rowenna Davis, who has started taking practical action to help people in her community.
As the six-week school summer break stretches out towards September, many families who struggle on a budget during term time, when their children receive free school meals on weekdays, find that they don’t have the money to be able to feed their children during the holidays.
Davis is a teacher at a Croydon secondary, and has seen this kind of grinding poverty at first-hand, and how it can affect youngsters’ life chances and education.
She has turned her political campaigning, as she seeks selection by the Labour party to be their candidate in Croydon and Sutton in next May’s London Assembly elections, into community activism, doing something a good deal more practical than politicians’ usual default activity, of delivering leaflets that no one bothers to read.
Davis, who lives in Waddon, has been using practical means to combat the effects of austerity policies that have been in place since the ConDem coalition.
Davis is using the large local network of Croydon and Sutton Labour Party members to get together food and toiletries for food banks. Summer holiday hunger, affecting youngsters who would otherwise benefit from at least one nutritious meal a day at school during term time, has been shown to leave local children under-nourished.
“‘Holiday’ is not a word a child should dread,” Davis said.
“Teachers know that many of our students return to school in September less happy and healthy than when they left us.
“At school, children on free school meals are guaranteed at least one hot and nutritious meal a day and breakfast clubs are open. In the holidays, this often gets taken away. On top of that, children may visit other parts of their family, so suddenly a single dad or secondary carer may be trying to feed children they wouldn’t usually budget for.”
Croydon’s Labour council is also working with Family Action to use money from the Department of Education to provide free foods through ‘Holiday Food and Fun’.
“We’re lucky enough in our party to have a huge network of people who are compassionate and motivated to act by a strong sense of social justice,” Davis said.
“This is not a problem that’s going to be solved by one person alone. Do get in touch if you want to help or donate in any way.”
To contact Davis over food bank donations and collections, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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