Saturday, June 15, 2024

Thurrock Celebrates the Thurrock Lunch Club

THIS REPORT is taken from

Since they highlighted the work of the Lunch Club, a number of local and indeed BBC Radio4 have been down to the Lunch Club to witness first hand the work that they do.

Did you know that in some parts of Grays, up to 3 in 5 children live in poverty? Or 1 in 5 mums have to choose between feeding their children or themselves? During term time many families benefit from the provision of free school meals while their children are in school; during the school holidays however, they have to provide all food themselves as well as paying for childcare or taking time off work. Not easy on a budget! On learning this, one young woman cared enough to do something to help and with the support of her local church, established Thurrock Lunch Club (TLC).

Elle Knight, 21 from Grays, set up Thurrock Lunch Club as an initiative which provides free hot meals and activities to families who would normally receive free school meals in term time, during school holidays. Grays was initially chosen, because after some research it was found in some areas of Grays (Grays Riverside) up to 58% of children are living in poverty- something that Elle found unacceptable. As organiser, Elle points out, “There are many children who are in receipt of free school meals but what happens when the holidays come? The holidays can be a very expensive time”.

Elle launched the very first lunch club in Quarry Hill Academy during the summer holidays of 2012 when it ran for 4 successful weeks. The school kindly provided the use of their hall and kitchen facilities free of charge and continue to do so. Since then, Thurrock Lunch Club has served over 350 meals to 46 different children and their parents, helping families from the community, whilst also providing a space for both children and parents to make friends, take part in activities and have a good meal.

Thurrock Lunch Club is part of the wider ‘Make Lunch’ initiative and National Director Lillie Jenkins, had this to say, ‘School holidays should be full of fun and friendship but for many financial pressures mean added stress and isolation. Thurrock Lunch Club provides a free meal and activities which help family finances to stretch and puts smiles back onto faces.’

Quarry Hill Academy alongside two other local schools are inviting eligible families to Thurrock Lunch Club, meaning that 200 children are invited each time.

Community Church Chafford Hundred are the primary funder but Thurrock Lunch Club have also received financial support from Sainsburys Chafford Hundred and more recently have just secured a grant from the Cinnamon Network, which will go a good way in supporting the work. They have also mobilised over 50 volunteers to serve their community, from a variety of local churches and the wider community.

This summer Thurrock Lunch Club will be running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Quarry Hill Academy for five weeks during the summer holidays. Families who are interested in becoming members are encouraged to contact Elle using contact information found on the website.

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