Holiday hunger: Oldham summer camp feeding hundreds of kids for free everyday

A summer camp providing free meals for children during the summer holidays is helping to alleviate pressure for hundreds of parents.

The club in Oldham is funded by the council and the government after the campaign for free school meals to continue through the holidays from footballer Marcus Rashford.

Of the 100 children attending on day one, 70 are entitled to free school meals and can come for free.

The government say they will fund the meals through until September, but there are fears that some children are still being left without.

Neil Consterdine, from Oldham Council, said: "In Oldham we've got well over 10,000 young people who are eligible for free school meals.

"They still need to be fed, and fortunately Oldham Council's really committed to support that programme - we've got nearly 3,000 places available for children on free school meals. It's absolutely crucial."

Findings from a survey suggest that 30% of parents of school-aged children are worried about feeding their children over the summer holidays.

And that rises to 49% in households where the children are entitled to free school meals.

There remains concerns that many across our region could be missing out on lifeline services, with half of those eligible unaware of this scheme.

Dillan O'Connor, from Dream Big Sports, said: "There have been barriers to the Holiday Activity and Food Programme, and we've worked with the council to try to tackle those - it's more people knowing the opportunities are there, and the offer is there.

"So getting that out to them, speaking to local schools to make sure they can make parents aware that they can access this provision.

"We know the demand will be so great in the borough. We've seen it - within two weeks the camp was pretty much sold out for the whole summer, and we've got a waiting list that is quite lengthy, so hopefully in the future we can open up more camps, more spaces to families in the community." 

The Government's programme is funding this summer and the Christmas holidays. The hope being while classrooms across the North West are empty, children's bellies will not be.