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Source: City of Wakefield

​The district’s Recovery Board has given the go-ahead for plans to be developed which could see partners provide much needed food for some of the district’s most vulnerable children at Christmas after the Government failed to offer free school meals during the festive holidays.

The Residents Recovery group, led by Simon Topham from Wakefield District Citizens Advice and supported by Cllr Maureen Cummings, will look at how a district wide scheme could work.

The Board also agreed to write an urgent letter to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary urging them to do what is needed and feed those children eligible for free school meals during school holidays throughout the duration of restrictions.

Simon Topham, Chair of the Resident’s Recovery group and Chief Executive of Wakefield District Citizens Advice, said: “We are really keen to support those families who are already struggling with the impact of this pandemic, and we will look at how support to children eligible for free school meals in the absence of any national intervention can be provided through existing schools networks, and what the costs of such an approach may be.”

​Cllr Maureen Cummings, Deputy Chair of the Resident’s Recovery group, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the government has chosen not to provide this most basic of support for children, at the most challenging of times. This is simply not right. Children and their families are being badly let down and the pressure on financially vulnerable families, particularly during the winter months when the cost associated with children being at home increases, is simply being ignored. We will continue to lobby Government to try and persuade them to do the right thing but in the meantime, we are determined to step up where government haven’t.”

​The Board also heard about early work being undertaken through the Economic Recovery group to establish a single platform where businesses can find out about and access support and expertise from the people who are best placed to help them.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Chair of the Recovery Board, said: “It is clear that everyone on the Board is pulling together to ensure that the right support and planning is in place so that local residents and businesses can access the support they need to help them recover as quickly as possible.

“Today’s update from Public Health shows that we are facing a critical situation with the recent significant rise in positive cases. We cannot under estimate the ongoing impact this has for the recovery of residents and our economy and highlights the importance of us coming together with the absolute priority of supporting this district.”

The Recovery Board, which was established by the Leader of Wakefield Council to drive forward the district’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, focuses on two key themes of work – residents and economy.

The Recovery Board currently includes representatives from Wakefield Council, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group, Department for Work and Pensions, Wakefield College, Wakefield and District Housing, Mid Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce, NOVA, Wakefield District Citizens Advice, Federation of Small Businesses and the Wakefield Business Improvement District. The members will work together to respond to national decisions by the Government over the coming weeks and months, to support the district in its recovery, and formalise the multi-agency work that is already underway.  

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