Sunderland MP slams government for ‘putting its head in the sand’ over school holiday support for families

Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon Hodgson MP

A Sunderland MP has slammed the government for ‘putting its head in the sand’ over vital support for families during the school holidays.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, who has campaigned on the issue of child holiday hunger, reacted to a Northumbria University study.

They are letting down generations of children who deserve the best start in life, no matter what their background or circumstances

Sharon Hodgson, MP

The mapping exercise was conducted over the summer holidays, with the most responses from the North East.

It found a rise in the number of organisations delivering holiday hunger clubs since 2015 with a sharp rise in 2017.

More than two thirds do not charge parents, with the majority providing both food and activities for children.

The study found voluntary, community, church or faith groups make up more than half of all providers and rely on paid and volunteer staff.

The MP, who commissioned the first mapping exercise in the summer of 2016 as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, said: “It is deeply concerning to see that holiday hunger provision this summer has increased so drastically compared to last summer.

“The staff and volunteers who help provide this vital support to families over the summer holidays should be thanked profusely for doing such an amazing job, but it is high time that the government seriously addressed this issue once and for all.

“The Government must acknowledge this is becoming an ever-more serious issue in our country and come up with policy to tackle this issue. By continuing to put their heads in the sand, they are letting down generations of children who deserve the best start in life, no matter what their background or circumstances. The time to act is now.”