Councils continue to work closely together with voluntary sector to help families through half-term and beyond

Help continues to be available, should it be required, during half term in Oxfordshire for families of children in receipt of free school meals.

All six Oxfordshire councils have been working together very closely with community and voluntary partners to help families across the county access food and essential supplies.

Support mechanisms are in place to help vulnerable families, and these have been targeted at those who need it most. Oxfordshire’s councils have a strong track record of delivery through third-sector partners and these links shone through during the lockdown period earlier this year

Oxfordshire County Council has already passed a grant of more than £500,000 – received from central government on 31 July – to the district councils; Good Food Oxford and South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance. This grant is being actively used to support families in need through services such as food larders, food banks, and providing family cooking bags with ingredients and recipe cards.

Countywide services for children are open as normal during half term to respond to families needing assistance.

Meanwhile there are local schemes aimed at children and families during the half term period:

  • Cherwell District Council is running Activator sessions in Grimsbury and Neithrop followed by warm healthy snacks. Family cooking bags will also be given out to families with ingredients and recipe cards to encourage healthy cooking at home.
  • In West Oxfordshire a number of schemes are operational to help support children through organisations such as Witney Fridge, Eynsham Community Larder, Carterton Foodbank, Witney Besom and Chippy Larder in Chipping Norton. Lots of local businesses are also making ready-made meals. Using Government funding Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire is providing food vouchers and debt advice for people who are struggling to manage.
  • Ox4FreeFoodCrew is extending its offer to school children and their parents in the city, with a café open for any families in need too. Others providing assistance include Barton Larder (Barton Community Centre), SYRCOX, and Rose Hill Junior Youth Club.
  • South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse – The councils continue to support residents who are struggling to fund food – whether that is because of school meals not being available or any other reason. This is being done through our established Community Hub and we are working with partners to provide appropriate support where it is identified as needed.

Useful websites include:

Foodmap: good food Oxford

Oxfordshire All In

Oxfordshire All In website was created at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has a list of community support groups; many will continue to offer food parcels, community fridges and foodbanks into the winter.

Help out when schools out

Enter a postcode, it lists the businesses that have registered with them.

County Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services, said:

“There is a wide array of existing support available to families and children during half term throughout Oxfordshire.

We have well established networks with the voluntary sector. As is the case on a 24 hour and 365 days a year basis, our children’s early help and social care teams at the county council can also provide support for families in crisis.

“We keep all support for food provision to families under review, however there is already a comprehensive network of support for this half term period.”