Get support with food and energy bills

Free school meals support during school holidays

Our Helping Hand scheme to give our most vulnerable families support with food and energy bills over the winter.

The scheme is supported by funding from the government COVID-19 Winter Grant.

Working through schools, the Helping Hands programme provides support for families who have children and young people registered as eligible for free school meals. Support is provided during school holiday periods including Christmas and February half term.

The digital food vouchers are provided ahead of the holiday period and can be used at:

  • Asda
  • Morrison's
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Waitrose
  • Marks and Spencer Food
  • Aldi (added to the scheme in January)

Vouchers can be split across multiple supermarkets.

To apply for school meal support, or for more information about the programme, contact your child’s school or view our information about free school meals.

Free school meals support during term time

With schools now being closed due to the national lockdown from Tuesday 5 January, schools will continue to provide meals to families for those children and young people who are eligible and are now learning at home. Each school will decide how they wish to provide these meals. This could be vouchers, packed lunches or food parcels.

From Wednesday 13 January, the Council is offering schools the opportunity to order vouchers as per the scheme provided to all eligible families at the Christmas holidays. Please contact your school if you want to find out if they are making use of this voucher scheme.

Support in the community

A number of community and voluntary groups are running local programmes which offer support to residents during the pandemic.

Visit our online directory to find activities, groups and services near you.

Contact our support line

We have set up a dedicated Helping Hand phone line for households worried about food or warmth over the winter season.

Telephone: 01296 531 151
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5:30pm
Friday, 9am to 5pm

You can also contact us for more information.

If you call our Helping Hand support line, our advisors:

  • will ask questions about your circumstances so that they can provide the best advice and help
  • may direct you to agencies and organisations who can offer help and support
  • may offer direct support with food, energy and water bills or other essentials

In an emergency, contact our out of hours team on 0800 999 7677.

The logo for the Helping Hand scheme

The logo for the Helping Hand scheme