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Social Justice

The Big Issue’s Summer Survival Guide: Helping families through the holidays in a cost of living crisis

We know the summer holidays can be tough for families and we want to help. Our Summer Survival Guide has got you covered with places to eat for free, tips on finding affordable childcare and fun activities.

School’s out and the summer holidays are here. For many families, that means the safety net of a guaranteed free school meal and a day of childcare is whipped away.

Too many parents are left wondering how they are going to earn enough money to support their family while giving their children the summer holiday they deserve.

The statistics speak for themselves. Nearly six in 10 families struggled to cover essentials like food, rent, transport and childcare during the pandemic. We’re now facing a cost of living crisis, with the prices of fuel, food and food all shooting up.

On top of that, more than four million children in the UK were in households below the poverty line before the pandemic, a number which could top five million by April 2023.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK wide network distributed over 2.1 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis. A total of 832,000 of these parcels went to children.

And new research has found half of parents in the UK will be unable to meet their childcare needs over the summer holidays. The average place at a holiday club has jumped by 5 per cent and now costs £148 a week – more than double what  parents pay for an after-school club during term time. Families across the country will be left almost £900 out of pocket during summer holidays. 

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Just under 1.9 million children are eligible for free school meals in England, according to the latest government figures. This is 22.5 per cent of state school pupils. It is an increase of nearly 160,000 pupils since January 2021, when 1.74 million (20.8 per cent) of students were eligible for free school meals.

Campaigners have called on the government to expand the free school meals scheme time and again. In 2020, footballer Marcus Rashford fought alongside charities and successfully convinced the government to offer meal vouchers over the summer holidays to 1.3 million children in England.

But the government is not directly funding free school meals this summer, so parents have to seek out alternatives to feed their children.

At The Big Issue, we want to do something about it. We’ve long stood up for marginalised people who have needed that hand up and, sadly, that number is growing. So over the school holidays, we’re launching our summer survival guide.

From where to get meal vouchers to free holiday club and DIY toys and activities, we’ll be your one-stop shop for a summer of budget-friendly fun. We may be in a cost of living crisis, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to help.

Here’s our Summer Survival Guide, which we will update regularly with new articles and tips on making sure your kids have a fun summer without breaking the bank.

Get involved with the conversation on social media and share all your tips and advice for families using the #SummerSurvivalGuide.

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