Help for kids who eat one meal a day

PCSO for Cotmanhay and Shipley View Robert Webb, HR manager at Ward Recycling Wendy Smith and Community Co-ordinator Lisa Harrison with the new mini bus.
PCSO for Cotmanhay and Shipley View Robert Webb, HR manager at Ward Recycling Wendy Smith and Community Co-ordinator Lisa Harrison with the new mini bus.

It may be hard for many of us to believe, but there are children right here in Ilkeston whose only meal during the day is their school dinner.

This finding shocked members of the Arena Church in the town so much that they set to tackling the problem.

Food Bank volunteers Kath Mason and Lyn Tye.

Food Bank volunteers Kath Mason and Lyn Tye.

Now the Arena’s new Belfield Street building will provide a place for needy children to go after school where they can eat a decent hot dinner and do their homework.

“Personally I think this need in the community has always been there,” said church pastor Kristian Thorpe.

“It’s not a reflection of where things are with the country.

“When you delve into the community and connect with people, you realise there are a lot of things that go unseen.

“I believe I have a responsibility to do something about it –you can’t just ignore it.”

Ward Recycling has donated a minibus to the church for the operation, complete with a full tank of petrol, tax and insurance.

“It’s just incredible generosity from a local business,” said Kristian, “I think it’s brilliant that they are a national company that has taken the interest in a small charity.”

It will be used to pick children up from school – initially for one night a week – and take them to Belfield Street where they will be looked after and take them home again.

He explained that headteachers at three primary and junior schools have expressed interest in the scheme, which will also be run with the help of the police, who are interested in the positive effects they think it will have on reducing anti-social behaviour in town.

But Kristian hopes they will soon be able to stretch to three nights a week once they have built up staffing, volunteers and resources.

He is encouraging local firms to join the Arena’s business buddies scheme and give a set amount of money a month to help keep the scheme and the foodbank going. Call the church on 0115 944 2996 if you can help.