15,000 food vouchers to support families during half-term, and local centres open for appointments
Families are set to benefit from more than 15,000 food vouchers during the half-term holiday next week, in the latest in a series of initiatives to support residents through the impact of the coronavirus.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is using money from the government’s Covid Local Support Grant to provide around 15,462 food vouchers to households across the city. Arrangements are in place that will see more than 14,000 of those vouchers issued directly by schools to families ahead of the weekend.
It follows similar successful initiatives over other holiday periods during the past six months which have seen 45,601 food vouchers issued to families totalling £1,226,000 in support.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We’re really pleased to be able to provide food vouchers again to support families as households continue to recover from the impact of the coronavirus. It follows on from successful schemes during Christmas, February half-term and Easter school holidays. Vouchers are issued for children entitled to free school meals and children with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP). Each voucher is worth £15 and one is distributed per child, per week.
“Families do not need to apply for a voucher if their child is at a school in the city – schools will issue the vouchers directly for children who are eligible to receive them. We would ask families to contact their school if they haven’t received a voucher by the start of half-term.
“We would also ask city families with a pre-school child in a private nursery or with a child in receipt of an EHCP who attends a school outside the city to check our website to see if they are eligible for a voucher, and if so they can also apply online via: www.stoke.gov.uk/foodvouchers.”
If any of the vouchers are unclaimed after the holidays, the council will use them to support local charities that help vulnerable people.
Meanwhile, two council customer service centres have reopened for face-to-face pre-booked appointments, in line with the easing of lockdown restrictions. The centres in Longton and Stoke are now available for buying a Smart bus pass; buying or renewing a concessionary bus pass, should residents not have access to the internet; and handing in the keys from a tenancy that has ended for a council property. Appointments are available seven days in advance and cannot be booked for the same day. They can be booked via https://www.stoke.gov.uk/xfp/form/1551, or via 01782 234234 if residents do not have access to the internet.
Councillor Brown said: “The past 14 months have shown us that more and more residents are now accessing services online, and we have worked hard to provide services that residents need in this way. As such, the need for face-to-face visits has reduced, but we recognise that this is still important for some residents and our centres are following every Covid-secure measure to protect residents and staff.”
The centres will no longer accept cash payments, and residents wishing to pay by cash can do so using their local Pay Point or Post Office. Residents who qualify for a free bus pass can fill in a short online form at www.stoke.gov.uk/freebuspass in order to:
Apply for a free concessionary bus pass.
- Renew an existing concessionary bus pass.
- Request a replacement concessionary bus pass if their pass has been lost or stolen. (A fee of £8 will be taken after eligibility has been validated).
- Request a companion be added to an existing concessionary bus pass. (A fee of £15 will be taken after eligibility has been validated).
Any residents who do not have internet access can use public computers in libraries, where library staff are able to assist in the application process. Once an application is made online or at a local centre, passes are printed and sent out via post to the residents’ home address.
Residents are also reminded that the Register Office has relocated to the Civic Centre in Stoke for appointments only, and is no longer available in Hanley Town Hall. Enquiries should be made by email to email@example.com, and if residents do not have access to email they can call 01782 235260. More information on registering births and deaths can be found at www.stoke.gov.uk/info/20011/births_marriages_and_deaths.
The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 22.2 per 100,000 people, for the week 14 May – 20 May 2021. This is a decrease of 8.1 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 0.7 per cent.
Although cases are still widespread across the city, places where there are higher levels of community transmission include: Joiner’s Square and Moorcroft. Residents in these areas should consider booking a test.
Residents are being reminded of the coronavirus restrictions ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and that enhanced community testing that will again be available next week, in Longton Market on Wednesday 2 June, 10am-2pm and at Longton Park bandstand on Friday 4 June, 1pm-5pm.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “The enhanced testing is proving really popular. It is a great way of helping communities with advice about testing, people can have a lateral flow test there and then, and can take away home testing kits and find out how to use them. Our teams were out in Hanley Park last week and gave out 432 home testing kits – each kit contains seven tests, so residents have the ability to carry out more than 3,000 coronavirus tests.
“We know that many people will be taking advantage of the Bank Holiday and half-term break next week to spend time with family and friends, and visit restaurants and attractions that have reopened. Please do remember to be cautious and safe when you are out and about. Please remember to follow the guidance, get tested twice a week, and practice Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
“We must to continue to use our common sense to judge situations and to take personal responsibility. It is important to remember that while we are on the road to recovery, this disease is still with us. We must learn to live responsibly with Covid. It’s down to us to protect those who are vulnerable and weigh up the risks – please remember close contact increases the risk of transmitting the disease and meeting outdoors is always safer than indoors.”