The school summer holidays are a time for youngsters to have fun, six weeks away from the classroom and the routine of lessons.
But for cash-strapped parents the long break can be a trying and tense time, and not just trying to come up with inexpensive ways to keep them amused.
For some families who are already struggling to make ends meet, having to find ways to make the household budget stretch even further can push them to breaking point. With extra meals to be prepared it can be a real struggle, particularly for larger families.
That’s why the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy is running a unique project to help vulnerable families cope over the summer months.
Called the Cottage Cafe, the initiative is open to anyone experiencing crises, whether on benefits or not. It is running five days a week – three from its Templehall premises on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays 11.30am to 1pm and two from Viewforth Church Hall in the Gallatown, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 1-2.30pm.
With help from a grant of £3000 from Diageo, through Radio Forth’s ‘Cash for Kids’ the initiative will help provide lunch packs for children throughout the holidays. The packs include a sandwich, drink, crisps, yoghurt and a cake, and can be eaten at the centre or taken away.
In addition family workers going out to visit families around the town are taking packs with them to distribute to them.
Pauline Buchan, service co-ordinator at the Cottage, explained: “If you are a parent who is already in crisis and your child normally receives a free school meal, then the summer holidays can be a real trial.
“The Cottage Cafe aims to ensure that children will be guaranteed this one nutritious meal to replace that free school meal, and will hopefully give stressed out parents a little breathing space.
“We did something similar two years ago and were having to have four sittings a day. We didn’t have the money to do it again, so this money is a godsend.
“It’s not just for those on benefits, it’s for anyone who needs help. It can help us ensure that parents are not going without so the children can eat or there’s no money for electricity.”
The grant enables the Cottage to buy cut-priced food through the Fair Shares charity and also pays for two social care students to help out. For more details call (01592) 269489.
Cash for Kids supports groups and professionals working directly with children living in deprivation.
The charity supports all children aged 0-18 years who are living in deprivation in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and east central Scotland.
Through its work with support groups and professionals, it became apparent that there were as many as one in two children across parts of Fife for whom the school holidays are no holiday at all.
It also became apparent that one in eight children don’t get enough to eat during the holidays with many returning to school noticeably thinner, according to teachers. Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids decided to take action on this to help prevent children going hungry throughout the summer months.
Thanks to listeners and corporate supporters, like Diageo, it has been able to fund Summer Holiday Clubs across Edinburgh the Lothians and Fife to combat ‘holiday hunger’.
Alex Robertson, operations manager from Diageo Leven said: “We are delighted to support this year’s Cottage Club at The Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy.
“The center provides a valuable service to the local community and we are proud to be able to support this and directly help families in our local community.”
Emma Kemp, charity manager of Cash for Kids, said: “By funding these holiday clubs we hope that children will have positive experiences and build happy memories of their summer holiday and not the memory that they went hungry during the school holidays.”