As children across County Durham begin their half-term holiday, a new voucher scheme has been launched to support families who rely on free school meals.
Durham County Council announced it would step in to provide this vital support last week following the House of Commons vote against extending the national school meals scheme to cover school holiday periods.
From today (Monday), parents and carers whose children are eligible for means-tested free school meals will be able to apply for one £15 voucher per child on council’s website at www.durham.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals. After filling in a form, they will then be sent a QR code, which can be redeemed at any PayPoint or Post Office and used to buy food and drink supplies. Residents can find their nearest PayPoint at www.paypoint.com/en-gb/consumers/store-locator or Post Office branch at www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder.
Anyone who struggles to access the internet or does not have a device that would support the digital code can call the local authority’s County Durham Together community hub on 03000 260 260. Staff will be on hand from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, to help people with the forms or talk through other options.
The scheme will run throughout this week, but the council will ensure it is extended to cover the Christmas holidays if the Government’s position does not change.