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Sefton Council to provide ‘much-needed’ Christmas school holiday meal vouchers to eligible local families

Sefton Council will be providing meal vouchers over the Christmas holidays for families in Sefton who receive free school meals.

The Council will be using part of its Winter Grant Scheme allocation to provide schools with vouchers that can be allocated to eligible families.

As with the October half-term scheme, the vouchers will be valid to buy food in-store and online at local supermarkets. It will not be possible to use the vouchers to buy alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, phone top ups or stamps.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “In October, Sefton Council funded meal vouchers for around 8,500 children as part of an initiative which received widespread public support.

“We will be using part of the Borough’s allocation from the Winter Grant Scheme to provide that level of support and security that nearly everybody agrees families need during the holidays and over the Christmas and New Year period.”

In October, the Council stepped in at short notice to provide local families with food vouchers and by the second day of the scheme was dealing with more than 2,500 applications. During the half-term week, the Council team was processing around 1,0000 applications per day.

Cllr Hardy added: “With very short notice last time, the Council took on the application and allocation process centrally.

“While, thanks to the massive effort of our team, we got through the applications and families received the vouchers, this time we are going to be able to distribute the vouchers to schools, which will make it easier for everyone.”

Gil Bourgade, Headteacher at Birkdale High School said: “Schools are only too aware of the significant difficulties some of their families are experiencing at the moment across all our communities, and we really appreciate Sefton Council’s decision to fund free school meals through these vouchers.

“It will provide direct and much-needed support to our pupils and their families over the Christmas break.”

Local businesses and voluntary organisations, which were already being hit by the Government’s COVID restrictions also pitched in by providing packed lunches, food hampers and meals to local families.

Families across Sefton who do not currently receive free school meals but think they might be eligible can visit www.sefton.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals to find out whether they qualify and how to apply.