Blackburn Youth Zone – never more needed

Members from Blackburn Youth Zone were featured on CBBC Newsround discussing how support from vital services such as Blackburn Youth Zone have supported them and their families during the coronavirus crisis. 

Food banks in the UK have reported record levels of children who are needing their support. The Trussell Trust – which runs food banks across the UK – said they have had to provide around 2,600 food parcels a day to children whose families are struggling to afford food during the coronavirus pandemic – a record high. 

In the feature, Jayden, aged 10, said: “Throughout the summer we went to the Youth Zone at Darwen and this meant we got a meal every day which really helped a lot. It made me feel like someone out there actually cares. If we didn’t have that support, my mum would have struggled and my family would be in bits.”

Paige, aged 10, who also features, said: “Sometimes I wouldn’t eat much because I didn’t want other people in my house to go hungry. Often my parents wouldn’t eat so that me and my brother wouldn’t be hungry ,we had food parcels during lockdown which made me happy because it meant we all got to eat.”

Blackburn Youth Zone along with other partners from the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) have played a crucial role in the boroughs response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Nourish’ group ensured the borough had an effective and efficient response to food distribution, collectively since March they have distributed over 50,000 hot meals and 30,000 food parcels to people in need within Blackburn with Darwen. 

According to the Trussell Trust, between 1st April and 30th September 2020, food banks supplied more than 1.2 million emergency food parcels to people struggling to afford essentials. 

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “It is heartbreaking to hear these wonderful children talk about not having enough food and about their families struggling.

“This should not be happening and these children should not have to be worrying about this. Food poverty is a growing issue at the moment especially due to the challenges around the coronavirus pandemic and we are seeing more and more of this.

“However, hearing about the help these children and families have been given is wonderful, and shows that when we all come together we can make a real difference to their lives.

“Marcus Rashford’s campaign has been hugely influential in raising awareness of food poverty and holiday hunger and all these organisations and charities in Blackburn and Darwen, and the Council as well, have come together to try and beat this.

“We have been tackling food poverty as part of our response to Covid-19, setting up the Blackburn with Darwen Food Alliance. Working with more than 40 voluntary sector organisations, we have been feeding thousands of low income families throughout the pandemic. When we all work together we can make a difference.”

Hannah Allen, Chief Executive of Blackburn Youth Zone said: “It has been an honour to be able to support so many young people and their families throughout the crisis.

“Hearing the stories of these young people and how the Youth Zone has supported them through such a difficult time makes me extremely proud of the BYZ team, volunteers and partners who have worked tirelessly making this possible. 

“Part of our core offer is providing a hot nutritious meal, low cost meal on a daily basis to our members. With the uncertainty of securing food, we felt it was the right thing to do to re-deploy our efforts in ensuring no young person and family who needed it the most was provided with a hot, nutritious meal.

“In total BYZ have distributed over 20,000 meals since March, including tackling holiday hunger throughout the summer, October half term and we will be supporting this cause at Christmas also.”

To view the feature, which appeared on CBBC Newsround on Thursday, 12th November click here

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