Yorkshire MP praises 'vital' holiday hunger scheme
Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel has praised the commitment of a Yorkshire Cricket initiative offering hope to disadvantaged families in Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation recently joined forces with Morrisons to provide more than 20,000 free meals and 1000 hours of cricket throughout summer to help support the region’s most vulnerable families.
With many children coming from low-income households across the region, holiday hunger is a major issue for families who may not have access to free school meals throughout the summer months.
But across West Yorkshire more than 10 community hubs have been providing thousands of children a free nutritious lunch as part of the Crick-Eat partnership as well as hours of engaging and fun cricket coaching from professionally trained coaches.
Mr Sobel saw the project first hand today, Wednesday, 25 August, at Brudenell Primary School in Leeds, with the MP taking part in a game of cricket with a group of youngsters.
Mr Sobel said: “It’s been great that I’ve been able to come down and not just watch the kids but also have a go as well – I even managed to score a run against some of these fantastic cricketers right across the age groups of boys and girls.”
He added the hub at the primary school had been “vital” for local families in the community.
He said: “It’s fantastic they can get to come here, have cricket coaching and also get a health nutritious meal during these long summer holidays when we know a lot of families are struggling to feed their children.
“One thing that we know is many families rely on free school meals during term time for their children to get ample nutrition. Initiatives like this are particularly important in the summer holidays when they are six weeks out of school we know there are kids going hungry and there is not enough provision.
“We’ve had this whole year where people like Marcus Rashford have been campaigning on these issues and it’s great that we’ve got this programme which is tackling a number of different issues.”
Jill Harland, the headteacher for Brudenell Primary School, added: “Most of our families live in houses with little indoor space and limited gardens so offering two hours exercise in a fun and friendly environment will support their mental and physical health.
“Our community has benefitted by seeing these young people occupied and playing together – a real success!”
The school is one of 12 community hubs across West Yorkshire providing thousands of children a free nutritious lunch as part of the Crick-Eat partnership.
Achuthan Prasad, 21, one of the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation volunteers, who is helping run the programme at Brudenell Primary School in Leeds, said: “It feels great that we’re helping out the community and it’s been fantastic for the kids.
“We’ve seen some of the young people turn up every day for the five weeks so far.
“It’s a lot of fun for them.”
Elsewhere in Leeds community hubs include Hovingham Primary School, the Bilal Sports Centre and Brudenell Primary School, in Harehills.
Elland Cricket Club, in Calderdale, Liversedge Cricket Club in Kirklees and King James Fernside, in Huddersfield, and Keighley Cricket Club are also hubs.
While in Bradford Park Avenue, the Sutton Community Centre, Karmand Community Centre, the Rockwell Centre and the Beap Community Partnership are chosen venues.
The initiative is being expanded to the venues this summer following a successful pilot earlier this year.
The programme has also provided hours of engaging and fun cricket coaching from professionally trained coaches.
Morrisons Community Champions have been working with their local venue to deliver the packed lunches including snacks and refreshments.
As well as supplying lunches Morrisons has teamed up with Colgate Palmolive to provide 10,000 toothbrushes and 10,000 tooth pastes to support dental hygiene among children.
Rebecca Singleton, Community Director at Morrisons, said: “No child should ever go hungry and so we’re proud to be supporting Crick-EAT and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation in this important partnership, bringing children together for a summer of good food, cricket and fun!”
Beth Cook, the Health and Wellbeing Manager for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, added: “As a foundation, we are committed to supporting those who most need it in Yorkshire’s communities.
“With the average family just one month away from needing financial support, programmes like Crick-EAT are vital to supporting a community’s physical and financial health.
“Food poverty will not end at the end of this summer, so it is essential we are able to continue the delivery of Crick-EAT to continue supporting those who need it most.”
Crick-EAT, which started last month and has provided more than 9,000 meals so far, is running until Friday, 3 September.
For more information or to book a place, parents can email Ben Tyler, the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation Crick-EAT officer, on: Ben.Tyler@yorkshirecricketfoundation.com.