Pan Together, the charity which exists to support and provide a community hub for the residents of East Newport, has welcomed the government-commissioned review proposing the extension of free school meals to another 1.5 million children in England.
as entirely in line with its lived experience since closing the community centre to visitors on 17th March.
In the 8 weeks from 5th May to 30th June 2020, volunteers and staff at Downside Community Centre have prepared and delivered 614 no-cost hot meals to local children and young people in real need who weren’t in receipt of free school meals before the lockdown but whose families’ circumstances have changed dramatically since and have very limited other means of support.
This has only been made possible with kind donations and generous grant support from a range of individuals and organisations – including (in the last week) a grant of £500 from the ASDA Foundation. This is to specifically support the provision of 250 tasty and nutritious no-cost lunches to vulnerable children as the school summer holidays begin.
In a similar vein, Clare Jones, the Community Champion for ASDA’s Newport store, has given the charity a donation of school uniform basics to help local parents who aren’t in a position to buy new school uniform and distribution has already begun.
Rachel Thomson, Pan Together’s Community Centre Manager, said:
“34.9% of local children and young people were growing up in poverty in Pan, Pan Meadows and Barton before the outbreak of the coronavirus emergency. That’s more than twice the proportion of 17% across England and the situation has inevitably worsened since the pandemic began.
“We are so very grateful to all of our donors – but especially to the ASDA Foundation and ASDA’s Newport store for all of their help in these most difficult of times. They’re really helping to put smiles on lots of faces in our community”.