Families experiencing financial hardship in Wigan Borough could be given a one-off grant to buy new school uniforms.
Wigan Council has received almost £417,000 in Emergency Grant Funding, which will be used to extend the local authority’s existing welfare support offer to ease the pressure on families in need.
The green light has been given for the money to be used to help families pay for school uniforms with up to £25 per qualifying child. Families must be eligible for free school meals to apply.
More schemes are being explored, with the below still in development:
• Increased support for customers with gas and electric vouchers
• Vouchers for local supermarkets allocated to families most in need.
• Support accessing white goods and furniture where people find themselves in need of crisis support.
Families in receipt of free school meals have already been contacted directly about the school uniform grants
Councillor Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for housing and welfare at the council said: “Our existing welfare support offer is a collaborative effort between the council and partners, committed to supporting residents in a range of ways from providing crisis relief to helping care leavers.
“There are additional pressures during this time of year anyway, but this combined with effects of Covid-19 can make a person’s circumstances feel all the more overwhelming. There may also be individuals or families in our borough who have never needed welfare support but maybe due to redundancy or illness, now need a helping hand.”
“Teams from across the council have come together quickly in order to pull together a comprehensive package for this money to be spent in a way that will benefit those residents most in need.”
In addition to the above schemes, Wigan Council also hopes to use some of the funds to provide virtual activities for care leavers, create learning packs for children with SEND and invest into the local veteran welfare support fund managed by the Armed Forces HQ, which helps veterans in crisis.
It is also hoped that some of the money can be used to support the borough’s young carers. Any surplus funds will be split between the seven service delivery footprint areas and support hubs to purchase essential food and items for residents in need.
Coun Halliwell added: “There are so many ways in which this money can be spent. Although we welcome the fund, £417,000 is not enough for us to invest in every single service, so we are targeting priority groups initially. We will continue to do everything we can to support our communities through this unsettling time.”
To apply for the school uniform grant, please visit www.wigan.gov.uk/schooluniformgrants and fill out the form before 6 September. Further schemes will also be included on the website when they have been finalised.
For welfare support call 01942 705 221.
Or, if you’re self-isolating and need support, please call 01942 489 018.