Parents urged to play their part in health summer holidays

SCHOOLS in Rotherham have the choice of where families can redeem the free meal vouchers during holidays, it has emerged.

There had been calls for Rotherham Council to widen the choice for parents, such as by adding discount chains further from the school.

But RMBC has said the decision is with the schools themselves — and sent a reminder to headteachers to make the support as accessible as possible.

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The vouchers scheme — £15 per week per child during holidays — has already been extended to October thanks to £1.4 million government funding.

Council leader Cllr Chris Read said some schools were already providing vouchers valid at several stores.

He added: “The council provides funding to schools who then take responsibility for purchasing and distributing the vouchers.

“Officers tell me that they consistently request that schools make the vouchers or support provided through this programme as accessible as possible for families who receive the vouchers and have asked that all steps are taken to make sure that the vouchers purchased are linked to supermarkets that are both in the locality of the school but also offers the best possible value to maximise the impact of this support.”

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Cllr Michael Bennett-Sylvester, who used May’s full council meeting to raise concerns about the restricted shopping options for some parents, said: “I welcome the leader’s response and commitment to encouraging schools to give parents choice.”

Meanwhile, a programme of summer activities has been lined up for children eligible for free school meals.

Healthy Holidays includes sport, dance, arts and crafts, and swimming sessions designed to show youngsters how a healthy lifestyle can be fun.

Cllr Victoria Cusworth, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “After the success of the Easter holidays programme, I am very happy to see providers offering more activities throughout the summer to keep our young people entertained.

“I encourage you to look at the sessions available and book a place as soon as you can.”