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Most deprived children in Grantham could be helped under Inspire+ scheme

Column: Councillor, Lee Steptoe (Labour), South Kesteven District Council, writes:

We are about to move into the summer holidays after what has been a surreal time for schools, just as with the rest of society (teaching is my ‘day job’ and has been for 28 years).

One of the debates during this awful pandemic has been children who are not in school going hungry.

Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)
Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)

Only last month the government was forced into yet another embarrassing U-turn following a campaign by Manchester United star Marcus Rashford. This came after the government said it would not continue to provide the £15-a-week supermarket vouchers over the summer holidays that were provided since the lockdown in March.

Rashford, along with other high profile Premier League players, are from disadvantaged backgrounds themselves and in a very articulate manner soon got the government to back down. Now £120 million will be allocated over the summer holiday, supporting the 1.3 million children in England in the greatest need.

There will always be kick back from some over state intervention, but children should never be punished by failings of the economy (or their parents.) It is a fact that 2,500 children under 16 were admitted to hospitals in the first six months of this year for malnutrition.

I represent the most deprived ward in SKDC. I am therefore delighted to be supporting an initiative from local charity Inspire+ and its CEO Vincent Brittain. Inspire+ has worked with Earlesfield schools for 10 years and has noted how some teachers have said how much thinner and gaunt some children returned after the summer holidays.

The charity is hoping to pilot a scheme on the estate called ‘move and food’. This would offer structured physical activities, challenges and games for students up to Year 8, while providing a healthy hot meal. It would also offer leadership positions for 15-18-year-olds on the estate.

This is still at the planning stage with the pilot likely to be delivered in October half-term, but I very much hope it gets off the ground. If so I will be delighted to donate my £1,000 ward members’ grant to this inspiring cause.

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