A summer holidays ‘Grub Club’ held by West Durrington Phoenix Group has been declared a great success and may be repeated elsewhere.
Hard-working Phoenix community volunteers cooked and served hundreds of meals, free of charge, on sixteen different days during the summer, to children attending Phoenix-organised day-trips and special ‘Grub Club’ days held at their Northbrook Project base in Romany Road.
The children helped and learned how to prepare the food themselves on some of the days, learning about healthy eating in the process with the accent on healthy fare, fresh fruit and vegetables. Social housing provider Southern Housing Group covered the cost of the food.
Southern Housing Group’s Community Regeneration Officer for the area proposed the project at a meeting of the ‘Action Northbrook’ partnership in June. A number of those attending raised concerns about the difficulties many local families face during school holidays – with issues like childcare, keeping kids entertained, and the burden of buying in and preparing extra food. The families of those children normally entitled to free school meals in term time can be particularly affected. Action Northbrook partner’s Phoenix quickly agreed to host a pilot scheme aimed at tackling some of the issues.
Lin Lewis & Sue O’Keefe, of Phoenix Youth Group, said: “Giving parents a breathing space during the school holidays was really valuable, even for them to have time to routine, for example just to go and do the shopping! The feedback from the kids was amazing. They were so grateful and so happy; they’d come bouncing into the room. At the end saying: ‘Oh no – my mum’s here!’”
Denon, aged 7 said: “That was the bestest dinner ever! Can I really have a piece of fruit as well?!”
Andy, local Dad, said: “My kids absolutely loved the food, they’d come home raving about it every time! The interaction with kids of other ages has improved them socially. My daughter doesn’t eat that well at home, I think here she ate more because she was seeing other kids eating more. I have five kids and my wife is disabled; Grub Club was respite for me from having to cook for all of them each day. My meal’s often cold by the time I’ve finished serving theirs – Grub Club meant I could have a hot dinner!”
It is hoped the project can be repeated in the future, and even perhaps be a model for similar initiatives elsewhere.