Community groups work together during lockdown.
The Pioneer Group has recently been involved in a huge effort to keep vulnerable people in Castle Vale and Stockland Green fed during COVID-19. As lockdown restrictions ease, the team are shifting their focus to ensure children in the community have access to the most important meal of the day.
With more households now able to access shops and supplies for themselves, the local food parcel distribution services can be reduced. However, those who are extremely vulnerable and in need of assistance can still approach The Pioneer Group or Spitfire Services for welfare support.
The past few months have proved challenging for a lot of families, both physically and financially. While in school, some households who need additional support can benefit from breakfast clubs or free school meals for their children. This benefit provides vital support for low-income families and for almost a third of children, school lunch is their main meal of the day.
However, for many families in Birmingham, the school holidays can also be a difficult time. Research has identified a range of negative outcomes associated with time away from formal education, including learning loss, lack of social interaction, financial stress and food poverty in the absence of free school meals. With this in mind, The Pioneer Group wanted to ensure the provision of welfare for the younger members of the community during the summer holidays.
Together with Spitfire Services, the local teams have launched a remote ‘Breakfast Club’, which comprises a food parcel service delivering a nutritious selection of cereal, milk, bread, jam, pastries, fruit juice, cereal bars, fruit bars, yoghurts and fresh fruit such as bananas, apples and oranges.
Simon Wilson, CEO of The Pioneer Group, commented: “This activity on food distribution and introducing a new breakfast clubs is yet another example of partner organisations coming together during this crisis. It has shown what can be achieved when anchor organisations like The Pioneer Group and Spitfire Services, the community, colleagues and volunteers come together to provide that little bit of extra support to those who need it.”
Local MP Jack Dromey said of team’s efforts: “With over 15,000 people on furlough throughout Erdington, it’s a tough time and the idea that in the 21st Century people going hungry is just unthinkable, I am proud of the services being offered by Spifire Services and The Pioneer Group to support the local community.”
Spitfire Services secured the funding for supplies and the hub in which to organise the parcels, while employees from The Pioneer Group will be delivering the parcels on a weekly basis. Working together with local schools for points of referrals, and being facilitated by the Early Help for Families partnership, this new summer holiday programme will ensure there is enough breakfast for each household’s children for every day of the week.
Ray Goodwin from Spitfire Services added: “We have made a commitment to the residents of Castle Vale that as long as it is needed, it the food distribution point will be here; just because the restrictions have eased doesn’t mean the battle is over. For some people here they will have never experienced unemployment, they are now finding themselves in that situation and will need our support as a collective, Spitfire Services, The Pioneer Group, CVCH and Compass Support more than ever.”