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Flying Start For Fun Clubs

A council-run scheme to keep children fed and entertained during the school summer holidays is proving a big hit.

In the first week of the scheme - which offers free activities and lunch for three days during the middle four weeks of the school holidays - more than 800 children took part with very positive feedback from families.

The scheme has been hailed as "amazing" by mum-of-two Allison Bissett.

Her three-year-old son Willow is enjoying both the entertainment on offer at children's centres and the free lunch.

Allison, 36, of Whiteleas in South Shields, said: "This scheme is badly needed because more people than ever before need help. Since the changes to the benefit system and the introduction of Universal Credit, we are worse off as a family than we have ever been."

Allison volunteers four days a week for Hebburn Helps -  a food bank and crisis response centre - and is all too aware of the problems facing struggling families.

She added: "Some people have to make the choice between putting a roof over their head or feeding their family.

"That why I absolutely welcome this initiative from the Council. It's vital that as a community we come together."

The clubs are open to South Tyneside children up to the age of 16 at the following venues: Millennium PHAB Club, Hedworthfield Community Association, Riverside Children's Centre, Biddick Hall and Whiteleas Children's Centre, Marine Park Children's Centre, Horsley Hill Children's Centre, Boldon Children's Centre, Simonside Climbing Wall and Whitburn Parish Church Hall.

Children's entertainment such as face painting and parties are just some of the activities on offer at children's centres across the Borough and are suitable for children under the age of ten. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.

Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "We have received a lot of positive feedback on this scheme and it is good to know that families appreciate our efforts to give all our young people the best start in life.

"We have only been able to provide this project thanks to the commitment and goodwill of our staff and partners. We have not received any government money to fund this scheme.

"I would like to place on record my thanks to all those who are helping with this initiative, from those who have given up their precious holidays to those who have donated vital food supplies free of charge. This scheme simply could not have gone ahead without their support and goodwill."

The scheme is in addition to the work of a number of voluntary organisations in the Borough who work all year round.

To see full details of the scheme please visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/summerclub

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