Rochdale Borough Council is using government winter grant funding to support those most in need over the winter with the cost of food, energy and water bills and other associated costs.
Initially, over £448,000 worth of vouchers will be sent to help families over the Christmas holidays, with further vouchers planned before February 2021 half term.
The Christmas vouchers of £40 per child will support over 11,200 children across the borough who are either on the free school meal benefit, are being currently being supported by children's services or our care leavers.
The Council will also invest £120,000 in its Household Assistance Fund which will target vouchers and other support at households in receipt of benefits who require further assistance.
There will also be over £96,000 invested into the voluntary sector through the Food Solutions Network administered through Action Together and involving over 20 organisations. This much-needed funding will help purchase food for the Community Warehouse, provide winter care packages, cleaning packs, essential toiletries and nappies to support households in need.
£3,000 will also be invested into the well-established Fit and Feed programme which will enable it to now run in the February half term.
'Grants like this will go some way to supporting our families, but I'm committed to fighting for more for them'
Leader of the council, Councillor Allen Brett, said: "This is much needed funding for families that are going through a tough time. I'm proud of the support we're giving them and our wider offer.
"During COVID-19, as a council we have already invested in £500,000 of Aldi vouchers to top up those on free school meals and £140,000 for October half term vouchers. We invested £30,000 into the borough established food banks and we've also invested another £30,000 into setting up a new food club for families. We will keep fighting for fairer funding from government. Grants like this will go some way to supporting our families, but I'm committed to fighting for more for them."
Families who are struggling can also access the new food club the council runs with charity Family Action. By paying an annual membership fee of just £1, families that join can then buy £15 of food for only £3.50 and multiple purchases can be made to support larger families. Our early help teams also work with families in most need to pay for free food bags.
Since it opened in July 2020, over 2,000 food parcels have been provided to support families with discounted food and over 240 of them have been free to those most in need.
'I hope it's a comfort to our families who need an extra helping hand to know what's coming up this year and next'
Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children's services, said: "It is vital that we get this funding to families who need it and we hope that our package of support goes some way to easing some financial pressures before Christmas. I hope it's a comfort to our families who need an extra helping hand to know what's coming up this year and next."
For any families that are struggling the council also has a wide package of early help support available.
Early help support is extra help we offer to children, young people and their families when they need it. This can prevent small problems becoming big problems.
Every family is unique and everyone can go through problems that are difficult to deal with. Sometimes families need a bit of extra support. For example, you might be worried about your child's behaviour or development, or you might be experiencing some changes or difficulties that you can't manage by yourself.
Everyone struggles at times, it is okay to ask for help. The council is here for you and would like to support you with any issues as early as possible.
Vouchers will be being sent in the post from the council. There's no need for families to ask schools about these vouchers.