Different types of support is available for anyone in Portsmouth having difficulties affording food and essentials. Read on to find food support for parents and pets owners, and ways to save money on your food bill. You can also use our convenient map to find food support in Portsmouth.
Help with food
Find food banks, community pantries and larders, and other places that will provide a supply of food to anyone who is struggling.
- Food banks provide around 3 days food for your whole household if you can’t afford to buy food. Some food banks need a referral, and some can help you without being referred. Find out how you can get a referral.
- Free school meals – find out if you are eligible and apply.
- Community meals – Anyone who needs a hot meal can visit any of the services included in the Community Meals list. You don’t need a referral
- Community pantries and larders give you the option to pay a small fee to join, then buy weekly groceries at a reduced price.
- Special store offers – some stores are running campaigns to reduce food poverty, period poverty and food waste. Campaigns are usually advertised in store so look out for signs. Lidl offers a Too Good To Waste box for £1.50. A 5kg box filled with fruit and vegetables which are still good to use, but would have otherwise been thrown away.
Support for parents
- Find guidance on childcare costs on our Early Years page.
- Government help with childcare costs for parents. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support. See the childcare choices available and use a simple checker to help you make the right choice.
- Visit our Family Information pages to find lots of advice and useful information for parents.
- Tax free childcare – If you’re a working parent or carer, you can get up to £500 every three months (up to £2,000 a year per child) to help with the costs of childcare, including: childminders, nurseries and play schemes, before and after school clubs, and holiday clubs. Find out if you’re eligible and how you can take advantage of this help.
- Childcare support if you get Universal Credit – From 28 June, the maximum amounts you can get towards childcare costs with Universal Credit have increased to £950.92 a month for one child and £1630.15 a month for two or more children. If you are starting work, you may be able to get help with your first month’s childcare costs through the Flexible Support Fund, and you can now claim that money back in your next Universal Credit payment, to help pay for your childcare costs for the next month. Find out what help you could get with childcare costs.
- Holiday activities and food (HAF) HAF Fun Pompey gives support to families on lower incomes, helping them to access rewarding activities and healthy meals over the school holidays (excludes half terms). Bookings for the summer program is open and include funded places for those getting benefits related free school meals and pay as you go spaces too. Find out more about HAF fun Pompey on the PYC website.
- Free school meals are available to families who get certain benefits.
- NHS Healthy Starts scheme can provide help to buy healthy food and milk if you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4.
- Help with school uniform and childcare costs – Visit the HIVE Uniform share store
- The Portsmouth Baby Bank and Baby Basics are charities that aim to help reduce child poverty and support families during times of financial and emotional stress. They can help with baby clothes, maternity items, toiletries, equipment, cots, prams etc. The service is free but you need to be referred by either a support worker, Advice Portsmouth, a health visitor, GP or midwife etc.
- Find hundreds of organisations and groups offering support on the HIVE directory of services.
Support for pet owners
Our pets are part of our families but caring for a pet can be costly, and at a time that many people are having to make difficult decisions about how they spend money.
- Pet food and other animal products – these can be found at foodbanks and pantries. Read more about support for pet owners.
- Pet treats – Shop-bought treats can be expensive, but they’re easy to make yourself for a fraction of the price. Read how in this RSPCA blog.
- Pet charity PDSA offers free treatments and help with the cost of prescribed medication for your pets if you receive certain benefits. Find out what help you can get for your pet
- Streetvet is a registered charity that provides free, essential vet care to the pets of those experiencing homelessness. Find out how you can refer a pet that needs help.
Ways to save money on your food bill
There are simple ways to help you reduce the cost of feeding yourself and your family. With just a few changes to your buying and cooking habits, you can save money and still keep the flavour and nutritional value of your food. Here are some ideas:
- Plan your meals: Create a meal plan for the week ahead, and make a shopping list based on the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t shop for food when you’re hungry. This will help you avoid those impulse buys that really add up, and reduce food waste.
- Shop smart: Look for sales, buy generic value ranges, use coupons and store loyalty cards and buy in bulk when you can.
- Cook at home: Eating out can be expensive, so try to cook most of your meals at home. This will also give you more control over the ingredients you use, which can help you eat healthier.
- Avoid processed and convenience foods: This type of food is often more expensive and less healthy than whole foods. Cooking from scratch is cheaper, healthier and the whole family can help out.
- Use leftovers: Don’t let leftovers go to waste. Use them to make new meals or take to work or school for lunch the next day.
- Freeze food: If you have food left over or you’ve bought more than you need, freeze it for later.
- Grow your own food. If you have a garden, balcony or window sill, you can grow things to eat. Get tips on growing your own food, find community allotments and more.
Read more about saving money on your food shop and ways to eat healthy on a budget:
- BBC – How to cut your food bill by a third
- BBC – Eat well for less recipes
- Money Saving Expert – Cheap supermarket shopping
- Compare supermarket prices to get the best deal with Trolley
- Lidl – Tips to make your food go further
- Watch our cost of living playlist on YouTube
- Read our Cost of Living blog for money saving tips and healthy recipes
Find ways to cover the costs of some of life’s essentials, everything from school uniform and school meals to household items and repairs of things like bicycles and electrical appliances.
- There are places in Portsmouth where you can find free furniture and household items.
- The Repair Café is a free monthly pop-up social event where you can learn how to repair and mend your things with the help of friendly volunteers, including broken appliances, stuck zips, rusty tools, old bicycles and clothing.
- The Portsmouth Library of Things is a community project where you can borrow items that you don’t use often, like DIY tools, kitchen appliances, camping gear, party supplies, sports equipment and more.
- There are a number of grants available to help those facing financial hardship
- If you’re over 75 and on pension credit, you can get a free TV licence.
- Money Saving Expert is a great place to find deals and tips on how to save money on your shopping.