By K Featherstone
On Tuesday evening, Kirklees Council revealed two allocations of funds that will help many struggling organisations and families over the coming months.
In recognition of the fact that many community groups will not be able to benefit from their usual Christmas-time fundraising, £50000 has been made available to the Ward Projects Budget fund.
With events such as carol singing and concerts, lunches, fairs and other festive activities cancelled, many community groups have found that their regular avenues of financial support just can’t happen under current restrictions and safety measures. With no source of income, yet mounting bills, many vital organisations and groups are in danger of having to close permanently.
This £50000 of support will follow in the footsteps of money given to the Ward Projects Budget earlier in 2020 towards the beginning of the pandemic. A staggering total of £690000 was added to the fund from Kirklees, £30000 for each ward of the district, which has been used to support projects and groups since.
Cllr Cathy Scott and Cllr Paul Davies spoke in recognition of the work done by the groups that the fund supports; “Community organisations are incredibly important for people’s wellbeing, especially at such a difficult time for many people. We’re working with and alongside dedicated and inspiring groups in our local places. We recognise that these local organisations who are so fundamental for keeping people connected and safe are often facing their own financial challenges.
Further good news comes in the shape of a pledge of £700000 to keep children fed over the upcoming school holidays and February half term. More than 15000 children in Kirklees are eligible for the school meal vouchers, worth £15 a week per eligible child. Cllr Carole Pattison explained the importance of this; “Ensuring people can access food is critical to supporting good health and better outcomes. This funding for the Christmas holidays and February half-term will bring long-term benefits and help children in Kirklees to fulfil their potential”. This is not the first time that the council have stepped in to ensure eligible children in Huddersfield and surrounding areas are not going without food outside term time. Just before October half term the council pledged to provide meals for children who would usually have free school meals when it was made clear that similar, national schemes from earlier in the school year would not be repeated. As well as many councils filling the gap to ensure children were sufficiently fed, thousands of local businesses, cafes and restaurants revealed their boundless generosity. Business, restaurants, cafes, sandwich shops and everything in between made sincere offers of food packs, sandwiches and full meals in a stunning show of togetherness and generosity. When asked about the latest decision, Cllr Shabir Pandor stated “this was an easy decision for Cabinet to make”.