The summer holidays are a magical time for children, but for some parents it can be six weeks of worrying about how they can afford to keep their family fed and entertained.
Data released last week by the Trussell Trust shows that half the children helped by food banks in the UK are of primary school age, and that during July and August last year it handed out 4,412 more emergency food parcels than in the previous two months.
Without free school meals, and with extra childcare costs to consider, parents can be faced with challenges of having to provide food with little or no money. It is estimated that 22% of children in Lincoln are living in some sort of poverty.
Councillor Rosie Kirk, Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion said:
“The council has been aware of the poverty issue, particularly child poverty, for some time and in 2014 worked with partners to create the first Lincoln Anti-Poverty Strategy.
“The aim of this strategy is to identify the causes of poverty in the city and set out a series of objectives to combat these causes.
“We want to make people aware of where help is available, but also to promote free entertainment for families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet, but still have to keep their children entertained.”
“If parents can keep their children happy for free over the summer, it’s one less thing for them to worry about.”
The council is aware that 2017 isn’t likely to be any better for some families in Lincoln, so together with partners we want to make sure that our resident’s know where they can find help, but also know what’s going on this summer to make the most of the school holidays.
There are places to go for help and advice in Lincoln if you are finding that your money won’t go as far as you need it to. Lincoln Citizen’s Advice is based on Beaumont Fee, and will provide free, impartial advice so that people can find a way forward no matter what problem they face.
City of Lincoln Council also provides free welfare and benefits advice surgeries around the city, for those who are unsure about their entitlements. These are located in Ermine, Birchwood, St Giles and Moorland. More information is available on www.lincoln.gov.uk, where people can also contact the council about their concerns online.
There are several food banks and community larders around Lincoln that will provide basic food for those in need. These places issue food vouchers to partner agencies in the city who then refer people in need, who can exchange the voucher for three days-worth of food. More information can be found at www.lincolnlarder.co.uk and www.lincoln.foodbank.org.uk
There is a wide programme of free events taking place across Lincoln this summer, perfect for families who may be struggling to make ends meet but still need to keep the children entertained.
Throughout the summer there is the Lincoln Knight’s Trail, where 36 painted knights are dotted around the city. You can obtain a free Quest Map from venues in Lincoln and walk around the city finding the knights and getting the special word off each one to complete the quest! This is a great way of keeping everyone entertained for a few hours and getting some fresh air and exercise at the same time.
The Arboretum is the place to be throughout the summer, with free events taking place regularly. There is Lincoln Bubbler, which takes place on Monday 7 and Monday 21 August, as well as Monday 4 September. Lincoln Bubbler is fun for all the family with workshops showing kids how to make giant bubbles.
Also in The Arboretum is a free outdoor cinema event taking place on Saturday 19 August from 12:00pm until 6pm. This will be a chance for families to watch Moana and Beauty and the Beast for free.
City of Lincoln Housing has its annual Fun Day at St Giles Community Centre on Tuesday 29 August from 10am until 2pm. There will be plenty of fun and games to keep the kids entertained, as well as a few freebies for every visitor.
There are many more ways to keep the family entertained for free over the summer, but please be aware that booking is required for some activities.
If you would like to make a donation to any of the food banks, there is a drop-off point at City Hall. Just bring any tins or dried food that are in good condition and in their best before date to reception at any time during City Hall’s opening hours.