Since the start of the pandemic Government has helped our schools and Essex County Council to provide a phenomenal amount of additional support for families. Nationwide the Government is delivering a Covid Winter Grant Scheme worth £170m allowing councils to offer support and cash to the hardest hit families as well as providing food for children who need it when schools are closed. Essex County Council is using £90,000 for food banks and projects to support vulnerable families and individuals through lockdown and grants of up to £2,000 per project are available to help food banks and projects provide food hampers or packages who are most in need and adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Similarly, the £220m Holiday Activities and Food Programme will offer additional support to disadvantaged children until at least Christmas this year. To support home learning, Essex County Council has collected, repurposed and distributed laptops to 1910 children across the county. 4G routers are available for those who live in areas which are, as yet, unable to access fast enough broadband speeds to work from home.
The Prime Minister stepped in last week to make it clear that some of the food parcels distributed by companies chosen by schools to provide free lunches to pupils in need were not up to scratch. The company responsible has promised to up its game and ensure that children who need it are receiving high quality lunch packs.
All children can benefit from the launch this week of a Virtual School Library, run by the Oak National Academy and the National Literacy Trust. The library hosts free reading and writing content from much-loved children’s authors - providing a free-to-access book every week from the platform’s author of the week. You can find out more here: https://library.thenational.academy/
On Saturday I was delighted to be able to see the Brentwood Centre’s vaccination hub in action. Be in no doubt they are going great guns and making excellent headway in ensuring that elderly and vulnerable people get the jab quickly. If you are waiting for the vaccine, please be patient, the NHS will call you to tell you when your appointment will be.
Cases of Covid-19 in Brentwood and Ongar are slowing beginning to fall, but we are still in a dangerous phase. Please continue to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. You can find out more about support available for you and your families at www.gov.uk/coronavirus, www.essex.gov.uk and my website www.alexburghart.org.uk
Pictured: Alex Burghart, Dr Jeganathan and Dr Lal at the Brentwood COVID-19 Vaccination Hub