Norwich foodbank holiday club celebrates First Five Years
On Friday, April 6 to mark the fifth anniversary of Norwich’s Cadge Road FISH club offering free meals and activities to children in school holidays, the team took over 30 children on an outing to Norwich Castle with free entry, and free travel from First Bus.
Last week the Cadge Road FISH Club (Food (and Fun) in School Holidays) celebrated its fifth year providing free hot meals and fun activities to families who might otherwise struggle when the children are off school.
During the first full week of the Easter holiday, the Cadge Road FISH Club, supported by Norwich foodbank, served 83 meals and ended the week with a celebratory outing to Norwich Castle, travelling on a dedicated bus provided for free by bus company First Eastern Counties.
Hannah Worsley, Norwich foodbank’s Project Manager said: “The 31 children enjoyed a picnic lunch on Castle Green and spent a couple of hours exploring the castle and taking part in the holiday activities put on, completely free of charge to the FISH club, thanks to the Norfolk Museum’s generosity.”
Hannah said: “We were delighted to have our own 'private hire' bus thanks to First Bus who gave us free travel to and from Norwich Castle, which the children loved! One child said: “Wow it's like being a celebrity!' Special thanks to our drivers, Roger and David, especially for putting up with several choruses of 'The Wheels on the Bus'!”
FISH started in West Earlham in the Easter holidays of 2014 in response to the increased demand on foodbank services during the school holidays. Ten FISH clubs have since run sessions around Norwich, seeing over 350 different children over the years and serving in excess of 6,000 meals.
Lisa Marshall-Nichols who set up and leads the West Earlham FISH club said: “Many families already trying to balance their finances find school holidays stretch their finances to breaking point. I witnessed children having £1 to get some chips for their main meal and then having to share with siblings, or even their friends who did not have money for food. The Lunch Club was set up for those families that find themselves in this position. Activities were set alongside this as if you do not have money for food, going out is just not an option either.”
The clubs are run entirely by volunteers and supported by Norwich foodbank and generous donors which helps keep costs down. Supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons both regularly provide free activities and food, Archer's Butchers have provided free meat for their local club and Right Angle Events have provided free activities at multiple sessions.
In the past 12 months, thanks to grant funding from Greggs Community Foundation, Tesco Bags of Help and Co-op Local Community Fund, the clubs have been able to visit Melsop Farm Park, enjoy workshops with the Norwich Puppet Theatre and have booked a trip in the coming summer holidays to visit Pensthorpe Nature Reserve.
The free travel provided by First Bus is part of an ongoing national partnership with the Trussell Trust. To date, over 250 Norwich foodbank clients have received free travel from the bus operator, the majority to help them access or get home following their visit to the foodbank. Some clients were given free bus tickets to help access housing or medical appointments that could have resulted in further foodbank use if missed.
Chris Speed, Head of Operations at First Eastern Counties said: “We have a great partnership in place with the Trussell Trust and the local foodbank in Norwich. Staff provide fantastic support for local people in crisis and as the main provider of bus services in Norwich, we are proud to support the foodbank’s campaigns and initiatives that run throughout the year."
If you would like to get involved with FISH either volunteering or donating – finances (including supermarket vouchers) or food – please do email email@example.com or call Hannah on 01603 251733. FISH has a dedicated Facebook page.
If you are in need of support during the school holidays, please speak to your children’s school who can refer you to a local club or to the foodbank if appropriate.
Photo: Children enjoying free activities at Cadge Road FISH Club this Easter holiday