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Useful resources and information for the school holidays

We know that times continue to be extremely hard, the pandemic is putting a strain on many families and residents within Cheshire West and Chester, and beyond.

There is a wide range of support available to you as parents across the borough which can help you if you feel that you may need it.

The Council is working with other agencies to support residents and businesses in west Cheshire. The pages cover:

  • Dedicated helpline for people who need support
  • Clinically Extremely Vulnerable - shielding guidance
  • Support and advice on council tax
  • Domestic abuse advice and support
  • Support for businesses and employers
  • Coping with coronavirus
  • NHS bereavement advice and support
  • Test and Trace support payment

How to get help

The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme, funded by the Department for Education (DFE), helps children across the country to access healthy food and take part in fun activities over the school holidays.

In west Cheshire there will be a range of activity clubs on offer across the borough organised by our local partners.

Edsential

Community interest company, Edsential, is working with over 40 organisations, including schools, community, voluntary and faith sector organisations, to organise over 80 holiday activity clubs throughout the borough this summer. The holiday clubs will provide local children and families with:

  • healthy meals and snacks, along with family cooking sessions
  • a variety of directly delivered physical activities, such as yoga, skateboarding, dance, inflatable play, and judo, making the most of our outdoor spaces
  • diverse enrichment activities, including arts and crafts, hairdressing, forest school, teddy bear picnics and much more.

Visit the Edsential website for a full list of the clubs taking place over the summer holidays

Youth zones for 11 - 19 year olds (up to 25 if SEND)

Youth zones, operated by the Council’s Youth Service, will be providing eligible children and young people across the borough with a range of activities including sports, inflatables, looking after yourself pamper sessions, healthy cooking, graffiti sessions and arts and crafts. Activities are available for children and young people aged between 11 – 19 years old or up to the age of 25 for those with SEND.

Programme plans include Ministry of Food, HAF Fun Days and HAF Life Skills project. There will also be organised family days, where family members can attend too.

Those attending will receive a breakfast and lunch hamper and activity pack full of activities and resources for things to do at home.

If you would like more information, please email: EHPChesterandRural@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

Provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Seven organisations have been funded to deliver SEND specific HAF sessions including multi sports activity day, trampoline sessions, forest school activities, cycling provision, mindfulness, yoga, arts and crafts, science and healthy eating. If you would like more information, please contact: AimingHighForDisabledChildren@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

Brio Leisure

Brio Leisure will be running a range of activities from their sites across the borough, including activity fun sessions, crash swim courses, National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) lifeguard courses, sports camps, and free monthly memberships, all of which will include a nutritional lunch box. For more information please contact: info@brioleisure.org

If you need help with food shopping or are looking for details about other practical support available in your local area, visit Live Well Cheshire West.

Live Well Cheshire West

Funding from the Covid Local Support Grant has been provided to local schools to be used over the school holidays to help families who have children that receive benefit related free school meals. If you need support, please contact your child’s school for further information or the HELP scheme.

Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP)

The Welcome Network has pulled together details of the food and activity offers for families during half-term breaks, including Foodbank distribution points. All of the information can be found on a live, interactive map on the Welcome Network website.

The Welcome Network

Those delivering food support who aren’t currently on the live, interactive map are encouraged to add their details so people needing food support in their area can access their services.

The Welcome Network - Get involved

If you're having difficulty contacting any of the groups, or if there isn't something suitable or local to you please email: hello@welcomenet.co.uk and one of the team will link you to the support you need.

The HELP scheme is a discretionary scheme offering local welfare assistance including:

  • support for exceptional needs
  • limited payments for emergency funding in a crisis or;
  • to help people moving out of care

Any awards which are made are conditional. With you accepting any support from us that we consider you need. All awards are subject to a means test, which means we will look at your income and expenditure. This includes income that is available to you, including income we usually ignore when looking at your claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction.

Funding will be made on a one-off basis and will be restricted to one award in any 12 month period. Normally awards will be restricted to provide help with food vouchers or recycled goods.

Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP)

If you are unable to buy food, then food aid is available from the Foodbank.

The most important step is to get a foodbank referral. You will need to get a referral by telephoning or emailing someone who can do this for you.

If you cannot get out to collect your food, then please mention this to the person making your referral for you and they will make the arrangements for food to be delivered if this is at all possible.

If you have no food and cannot contact a referrer, please call the West Cheshire Foodbank office.

Covering Mid-Cheshire (South of M56) includes Winsford, Knutsford, Northwich and surrounding villages.

If you are unable to buy food, then food aid is available from the Foodbank.

The most important step is to get a foodbank voucher.

In order to provide the most appropriate help for the circumstances of your situation, Mid Cheshire Foodbank work with local agencies. If they feel you are struggling to put food on the table, they will issue you with a foodbank voucher. The local agency can also provide long term support if needed to help address some of the issues behind the reasons for your crisis. Agencies the foodbank work with include: Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.

Get in touch with the foodbank via phone or email and they can talk through your situation and put you in touch with a relevant local agency to obtain a voucher. Once you are in touch with a local agency, they will discuss your situation and supply you with a foodbank voucher where appropriate.

If you are unable to buy food, then food aid is available from the Foodbank.

The most important step is to get a foodbank voucher.

In order to provide the most appropriate help for the circumstances of your situation, Mid Cheshire Foodbank work with local agencies. If they feel you are struggling to put food on the table, they will issue you with a foodbank voucher. The local agency can also provide long term support if needed to help address some of the issues behind the reasons for your crisis. Agencies the foodbank work with include: Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.

Get in touch with the foodbank via phone or email and they can talk through your situation and put you in touch with a relevant local agency to obtain a voucher. Once you are in touch with a local agency, they will discuss your situation and supply you with a foodbank voucher where appropriate.

Payments of £500 can be made when somebody who is working loses pay because they are told to isolate when they have COVID-19 symptoms or they have been in contact with somebody with symptoms and are told to isolate by test and trace. From 8 March 2021 parents who are unable to work from home can also apply if their child is required to isolate and they have caring responsibilities.

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme provides financial support for people who are on a low income and need help to pay their Council Tax. There is a discretionary fund alongside the main scheme.

The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme is available to help people who receive Universal Credit or Housing Benefit where the amount awarded in benefits does not pay their full rent. This scheme can help with the shortfall in some circumstances or can help people on benefits with rent in advance to secure a property.

Homeless2Housed is a short-term project providing support for people who are at risk of losing their home or who are unable to secure a property. The Homeless2Housed team can sometimes help with rent arrears and rent in advance. Contact them initially by emailing: H2H@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

If you are affected by coronavirus or its effect on the economy, there is a wide range of support available.

The Understanding Universal Credit website provides information about the changes the government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus. To find information you need about Universal Credit and other benefits:

Universal Credit (UC) - If you have any queries please use your UC journal to make contact, if you have a change in circumstances please report this on your home page. If you are unable to access your digital account, please contact 0800 328 5644. There may be a longer waiting time than usual on the telephony service as they are experiencing high call levels.

Legacy benefits - If you claim Job seekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) please contact your relevant benefit on 0800 169 0310 if you have any queries. Please listen carefully as the options may have changed since you last rang.

You can contact your local jobcentre by ringing 0800 169 0190 and you will be put through to/or a message passed to your local jobcentre. Jobcentres are limiting the number of people allowed in the offices during COVID-19 so please only attend a jobcentre if you have a booked face to face appointment or have no other way of contacting Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Local jobcentres can support with both ensuring you receive the correct benefit to support you whilst you are looking for work and if your circumstances mean you are currently unable to look for work. They can provide advice and sign posting to local support organisations. They work closely with both partners and providers to offer a range of training that is relevant to the local economy and is most likely to enable customers to gain skills to return to work.

The website highlights the range of support and advice on offer to help jobseekers find jobs, and employers get the people they need, all in one place.

Jobhelp is a good place to start if you are looking for work. Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, there are still jobs out there to apply to. Jobhelp are there to help you get started.

Their website provides a range of support.

You can also find hints and tips on applying for jobs and ideas about jobs you may never have thought of. And for the latest vacancies, check the latest jobs page or search the Find a job (external website) service.

The Live Well Cheshire West site provides support for a range of different money related matters, including:

  • Budgeting, banking and managing money
  • Money and benefits
  • Paying for care
  • Grants and funds
  • Debt
  • Help in a crisis

Live Well Cheshire West

Free, impartial advice and information on a range of issues. Advice is independent and completely confidential. Information to help you make the right choices if you are in debt. Such as how to avoid losing your home and how to get your finances back into shape. Help can include:

  • working out how much money you owe and the debts you should pay back first
  • budgeting your bills
  • getting a bank account
  • starting a pension
  • dealing with creditors
  • gambling advice and/or problems with tax

The Citizens Advice Bureau has also received £25,000 from the Winter Grant Scheme fund to cover payments made through their Fuelbank.

For further information:

Some children and adults could be facing increased risks as we are all asked to stay at home more due to COVID-19. We are here to help you. It is important you know you're not alone. The Council is continuing to work with other agencies to offer you support and encourage you to make contact when out on an essential trip (like shopping) to ask for help.

Open the Door signposts to local and national help, encouraging people to start a conversation about domestic abuse and bring it out from behind closed doors.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 999.

Domestic abuse

The Live Well website provides various resources about supporting children and young people during the lockdown including a section on mental health and wellbeing.

Live Well Cheshire West

Anyone struggling with their mental health can call the Cheshire West Mental Health Crisis Helpline on: 0800 145 6485. This is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for adults, children and young people.

The Council's Library Service will once again be hosting the Summer Reading Challenge, with this year’s theme being ‘Wild World Heroes’, a celebration of reading nature and action for the environment.

Developed in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, Wild World Heroes will inspire children to stand up for the future of our planet.

The Wild World Heroes live in Wilderville, a pretty cool place, but there are lots of things that they can do to make their town even better for the people and animals that live there.

The challenge is organised by The Reading Agency and is in partnership with local libraries across the UK. It is open to all children, free of charge.

Children will receive a collector's pack for joining, stickers as a reward for reading books and a certificate and a medal after completing the challenge of reading six books.

For the first time, children under four can take part in a special Mini Challenge, with stickers for reading books and a special golden sticker when they have completed.

The challenge can be joined online via www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/read, or in a library, from Saturday 10 July.

Local libraries will have lots of exciting events and activities planned to get children reading over the holidays. Keep an eye on the social media pages below for details.

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