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Local families are set to benefit from range of help and support schemes as we head into the summer holidays. Portsmouth City Council is setting out how families can access help with food, free activities for children and young people, as well as wider coronavirus-related support, including test and trace support payments for parents and carers who need to self-isolate and will lose vital income as a result.

Families in Portsmouth whose children are eligible for benefits-related free school meals will receive a £90 food voucher per school-age child to be used during the summer holidays. This support, which equates to £15 per week for each school-age child, is available to all eligible pupils from reception to year 11 as well as those in early years childcare who are eligible for the early years pupil premium or childcare funding for two-year-olds. The vouchers are being funded by the Covid Local Support Grant from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Children aged 5-16 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals, will also be able to enjoy healthy food and an exciting programme of free events and activities, including sport, performing arts, day trips and cooking classes, over the summer. Families receiving the £90 food voucher can find out about activities taking place locally on the HAF Fun Pompey website and use the links there to book places directly with providers.

Families in Portsmouth who are facing financial pressures from bills, extra costs or debts can also seek help through a broad range of local support services including HIVE Portsmouth, which can help with school uniforms for the new school year and connecting families with the help they need. Advice Portsmouth and Citizens Advice Portsmouth can offer free and confidential advice on bills, benefits, debts and employment. Portsmouth City Council tenants can also speak to their housing office to access support.

Councillor Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education and Deputy Leader at Portsmouth City Council, said: “The summer holidays can be a challenging time for many families and we want to support families in our community who are struggling with pressure caused by extra costs and time away from work and school over the holidays. We know that providing food vouchers over the school holidays can make a huge difference to families. The HAF Fun Pompey scheme will also be a brilliant boost for many children and young people over the summer by providing such a wide variety of fun and educational activities. I’d encourage anyone who is finding it tough over the summer holidays to get in touch with local support organisations as there is help available.”

If a parent or carer needs to self-isolate or stay at home with a self-isolating child because of coronavirus, and will lose vital income as a result, they can apply for a £500 test and trace support payment on website.

For more information on the local help and support available for families visit the council’s schools, learning and childcare pages.

For money advice, including tips to maximise your income, keep your costs down and deal with any problem debts, visit our money advice pages.