More than 2,000 young people in Blackburn with Darwen benefited from free meals and activities during the summer holidays as part of a government backed initiative.

Between them, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackburn with Darwen Young People’s Services, Blackburn Youth Zone, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, Inter Madrassah Organisation, Newground Together, Westholme School and Youth Action delivered 33,000 meals and more than 400 hours of activities for children aged 4-16 years.

Thirty two face-to-face forest school classes were also delivered by Newground Together at Greensleeves Community Garden on the Shadsworth estate.

Community programmes manager at Newground Together, Adam Doyle said: “The initiative was invaluable in allowing young people to reconnect with each other in a safe environment ahead of returning to school, which was a daunting prospect for many after such a long pause.

“The feedback we have received from parents confirms there is a real need for these kinds of programmes.

"One mum reported that her son had completely changed his habits as a result.

"During lockdown, he had become very lethargic and got into the pattern of staying up late and sleeping in, but the programme inspired him to get up early because he was excited and didn’t want to miss out.

"He also became a lot more talkative, chatting about the people he met and what they had been up to."

Coordinated by charity consortium, Spring North, the Get Stuck In clubs were part of the Department for Education’s holiday activities and food programme to support families in need with healthy and nutritious meals and organised activities.

CEO for Spring North, Angela Allen, said: “With more than 20,000 children living in food poverty in Blackburn with Darwen, these holiday clubs provide a vital lifeline for families.

"In many cases parents are in work but struggle to support their households, reflected by the increasing number of children who are currently eligible for free school meals.”

Following on from this initiative, Newground Together has teamed up with Barnardo’s to help children, young people and families in Blackburn with Darwen cope with the Covid-19 crisis, through the See, Hear, Respond programme.

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