This time last year I wrote a blog entitled “The Holiday…Hell”, talking about how school holidays can be a major challenge for a lot of families due to the regular reliance on school meals and the pressure to keep children occupied.
So unfortunately I wasn’t surprised when I recently read Gordon Brown’s public plea to help support Kirkcaldy’s food bank who are seeing double the amount of people require its support than last year, or to read Trussell Trust’s warning that record numbers are seeking help from food banks across Scotland, and that they simply cannot keep up with demand.
Last year I also talked about how holiday times are a busy period for Fife Gingerbread as we do all we can to alleviate the stress and worry that parents have when the kids are off school. This summer was no different for us as we had 117 summer groups running over the six week holiday period, which works out at about four every day.
These groups took place in the heart of communities all over Fife and always combined three essential elements; fun – food – free. Each group gives families a place to be together to play, to eat and to interact with other families.
Groups took place in community centres such as Maxwell Centre in Cowdenbeath, church halls like Church of Christ in Glenrothes, but also in local outdoor spaces such as Letham Glen in Leven, Lochore Meadows near Lochgelly and Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy, to get families outside and play. On top of this we also ran a number of trips for our families to places like M&D’s, Craigtoun Park and Beecraigs Country Park, giving families much needed days out together.
As I said, we do all of this to help families have a better holiday period together. It’s a time that should be cherished, not met with dread because a parent needs to find 30+ additional meals per child over the break or that they can’t go out and do things with their kids because of travel costs, entry fees, expensive food prices etc.
I have to commend our staff who really go above and beyond over the holidays, from making pieces at the crack of dawn, to painting countless faces, to seeking donations of food and refreshments. On that note I have to say a big thank you to all the local businesses that have donated a variety of items and also given us venues for free. We also couldn’t do this without our amazing volunteers who massively help out over the holidays.
Perhaps when I write a blog next summer I can report that things are becoming more encouraging in terms of food bank use and child poverty, but with Universal Credit now firmly upon us, I’m not holding out much hope.