Sunderland church offers helping hand to hard-up families

Reverend Fiona Collin at Sunderland Minster.
Reverend Fiona Collin at Sunderland Minster.
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A city church is reaching out to low income families who are often hit hard by the summer holidays.

Lunches and craft activities will be provided for parents, carers and children over the course of a month at Sunderland Minster as part of its Sunderland Summer Special.

The event, which will be held over four consecutive Tuesdays starting from August 4, is being held in response to the increased usage of food banks in holiday periods.

Reverend Fiona Collin, curate at Sunderland Minster, said: “For many parents in Sunderland the holidays are a time of stress and anxiety. The lack of free school meals and added costs of entertaining children is difficult for those on a low income. And we’ve noticed that food bank usage peaks in the holidays.

“Plus, children are often not getting the nutritious meals that they would get at school.”

The craft activities will have a seaside theme and families will be encouraged to take part in the arts and crafts together.

Fiona said: “We added special to the title because we want it to be a special experience for families. We don’t want parents to just drop their kids off and leave, we want them to be a part of it too.

“While this response will not tackle the causes of poverty, it will provide somewhere for families with children to go where they will be safe and can have some healthy food, which we hope will help.”

Local businesses have pledged to provide food for the event, which will feature home-cooked meals, smoothies, and fruit. A cash injection from the council’s Community Chest Fund has also helped towards costs.

The event, aimed at babies, toddlers and primary school-aged children, will run from 10am to 1pm and will feature stories, crafts, songs and outdoor activities, followed by lunch.

The cost is £1 per family, or a donation of their choice.

lFamilies interested in attending the Sunderland Summer Special are asked to register interest, so the church knows how many to cater for, on 0191 565 4066.