Sandwell College has announced today that it will provide food vouchers for hundreds of students this October half term and for the Christmas break.

With young people facing unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, the College is committed to supporting its most vulnerable students through the provision of food vouchers and mental health services.

The impassioned campaign by England striker Marcus Rashford to end child food poverty has brought the urgent need to support the most vulnerable young people to the fore. Sandwell College believes that all vulnerable young people – including college students – should have access to free school meals. And with many learners facing additional hardships and difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic, this support is more crucial than ever.

During term time, the college provides every one of its students with the option of a free school meal at lunchtime. And this October half term, it is taking immediate action to extend this support to its most vulnerable students. All learners who are eligible for free school meals will be provided with a supermarket voucher worth £15.

Graham Pennington, Principal at Sandwell College, said: “We believe it is even more important that we continue this support during October half term and over the Christmas break, when students will be away from their college and learning environment and, in some cases, are having to look after themselves at home, with limited financial means.

“We are acutely aware of the challenges which learners are facing during this continuing pandemic. At the same time as adapting to, and coping with, changes to their educational environment and learning journey, many students are dealing with additional emotional and financial pressures within their homes and communities, as a result of associated job losses or reduced income. So, we want to extend our meal support to our vulnerable students during October half term and the Christmas break, when they might need it most.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic bringing unprecedented change and upheaval to the learning experience of students of all ages, helping to protect the mental health of young people is a key concern for education providers across the UK.

Graham continued: “These are extremely challenging circumstances for everyone and we would like to remind our students of our mental health services, which are designed to provide help, support and advice for anyone struggling to cope or manage their mental health. The mental and physical wellbeing of our students is a priority across our college and our teams and counselling services are on hand to help at any time.”

The college’s extensive mental health services include access to a six-week programme of one-to-one support with a mentor, on-site counselling, 24-hour online support and video resources. Tutors are trained in mental health and there are dedicated staff specially trained as mental health first aiders to support with any immediate needs.

 

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