The charity behind Southport Foodbank is working closely with Meols Cop High School to help local families who find themselves struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Compassion Acts, which also runs Southport Food Pantry as well as money and advice services, is developing new ways of helping people as it faces a “massive increase in the number of families accessing our services”. 

During this February half term, Compassion Acts has ordered a whole pallet of food items from a national wholesaler for Meols Cop High School to distribute.

Discussions are now taking place about how best to support local people in need during the forthcoming summer holidays. 

During these unprecedented times, Compassion Acts has been aiming to reach families who have traditionally felt a sense of reluctance to rely on food projects.

One example of this is that a sample bag has been sent to around 100 families via local primary schools. These are mainly those who have recently joined the free school meals system and are unfamiliar with entitlements and options for advice – including the non-judgmental in-house debt and benefits advice offered Compassion Acts.

Another example is the emergence of an excellent working partnership working Meols Cop High School, on Norwood Road in Blowick in Southport, which has been forged over the last 12 months.

Compassion Acts was able to support Meols Cop’s community food drive in summer 2020 with surplus food stock. 

Compassion Acts CEO Richard Owens said: “We are aware that the need is growing among families. 

“This was illustrated by the massive increase in the number of families accessing our services.

“So we wanted to move resources to the point where it’s easiest for people, and given the travel restrictions of lockdown, that will be their local school.”

This term, after feedback from Meols Cop High School’s pastoral team about the difficulties faced by families in High Park getting to foodbank sessions, the charity has shortened the process for referrals so that the school is empowered to refer and distribute its own on-site foodbank.

The Youth & Community Centre which sits on the school’s grounds has been very supportive, also supporting delivering the food to families who most need it.

Meols Cop High School Headteacher Mr Parry said: “This pandemic has put the spotlight on so many challenges that our families are facing.

“It has been valuable to develop working relationships with partners who understand these challenges better than anyone.

“Through working with Compassion Acts and the team from the Youth Community Partnership we have now not only been able to support in the short term but also explore more long term sustainable support.”

As has been widely publicised nationally with campaigns by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford and others, it is school holidays which can be particularly challenging for parents.

Compassion Acts and headteachers of local schools, including Mr Parry, are currently pursuing every avenue of cooperation with Sefton Council and others to see what provision could be made for families during the forthcoming summer holidays.

The charity also runs a Food Pantry, which is a club where people pay a contribution to access a choice of food, at nearby Bishop David Sheppard Primary School in High Park. 

  • IF you would like to support the work of Compassion Acts and Southport Foodbank, or to find out more, please visit: www.compassionacts.uk

Do you have any stories for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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