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Council Leader praises the area's response

The Leader of West Berkshire Council has praised the area's response following a government decision not to fund school meals during half term.

Cllr Lynne Doherty voiced her thanks saying this was a further demonstration of the passionate community spirit we’ve seen in recent months and something which is to be admired.

The Councillor said: "We’re here to help anyone who is worried about being able to feed their children or access food this half-term. It’s a difficult time for families but we want them to know they are not alone and that support is available if they need it.

“We remain committed to ensuring that residents are supported during what is a very difficult time for many people. I want to reassure everyone that we have arrangements in place which means that no child needs to go hungry in West Berkshire. Throughout the pandemic we have worked proactively with local community groups, charities, West Berkshire Volunteer Centre and Greenham Common Trust to ensure that those facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus are supported. I have regularly met with these groups and I would publicly thank them for their work to date.”

Over the weekend local restaurants, pubs and shops have also come forward offering to help feed families who are struggling this half-term. This includes the Bunk Inn, Thai Golden Horse, Numee and the Riverside Community Centre in Clays Hill.

Last week Cllr Lee Dillon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on West Berkshire Council, called on West Berkshire Council to extend the free school meals voucher program into the Christmas holidays.

He wrote: "For West Berkshire Council to provide this vital service for those on the lowest incomes would cost approximately £53,000. Having consulted your Executive Director of Resource I am aware the general reserve of the council is currently above the minimum level, and so utilising this fund would not cause any additional budget pressures on existing services.

"This issue is of major concern to thousands of our residents. By acting now and securing the ability for families to feed themselves over Christmas your administration can make a huge difference."

Anyone who needs help should contact the Community Support Hub on 01635 503579 or by email at westberksbct@westberks.gov.uk.

The Community Support Hub is open during office hours; call between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Thursday, or between 8.30am and 4.30pm on Friday. As well as providing support directly, the team can also provide advice about other local groups and organisations that might be able to help. For more information and to contact the team via the website visit www.westberks.gov.uk/SupportHub

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