At a special meeting of Plaid Cymru Gwynedd’s cabinet today, an urgent agenda item was presented for elected members to consider supporting families facing challenges during the summer holidays.
With just a month to go before the end of the school year, the Labour Government in Cardiff announced that they would not be supporting families by ensuring payment support towards children's meals during the summer holidays this year.
“I am extremely disappointed in the Labour Government in Cardiff," said the councillor with responsibility for education in Gwynedd, Beca Brown.
“Schools are closing for many today, and an announcement like this, less than a month before the end of the term, is sure to have caused parents of children who receive free school meals great concern. These are parents who would have already been worried about the costs of maintaining their families during the summer period.
“I’m ashamed that we, as a society in the 21st Century, are in such dire straits where we are having to worry about feeding and clothing children. This is the real effect of the austerity measures placed on the communities of Wales thanks to the arrogant Tories in London during the past fifteen years.
“I am proud today to be a Plaid Cymru Councillor in Gwynedd who works on behalf of our communities. Through discussions with my fellow members, we, as a cabinet, have instructed officers to release £316,000 from the council's balances, to support Gwynedd's low-income families.
During this summer break, parents of almost 3,000 children and young people who receive free school lunches, in Gwynedd's primary and secondary schools, will be able to claim support of £3.90 a day, to buy food.
“We are lending a supportive hand; it won't solve every problem, but it goes some way to bridging a gap,” said the Councillor.
As an active volunteer of her community in the Llanrug area food scheme, and the Cwm-y-Glo area food bank on a weekly basis, Councillor Beca Brown is fully aware of the challenges facing families. By collaborating with FairShare in Bangor, food is collected, sorted and packaged in Cwm-y-Glo by councillors and active volunteers from the community every week, before food packages are delivered to the doorsteps of many residents.
The Councillor also receives and distributes used school uniforms over the summer period, to reuse and recycle clothes rather than filling landfills and creating unnecessary waste. It also reduces the financial pressure on families who need to buy new school uniforms.
Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, Leader of Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd said: "As Plaid Cymru Gwynedd’s cabinet, this was an easy decision. Finding the money to support our families who have been neglected by our Government.
“This is just one of our measures in Gwynedd. We have differing support services available to help residents who are struggling, and that information is available on Gwynedd Council’s website. If anyone is worried about losing their home, needs help with benefits, can't pay council tax etc, there is help available. There's no shame in getting in touch to ask for help - please get in touch.
“I'm proud of the work that many of my fellow councillors and active volunteers do regularly at grassroot level. Let's support each other and give thanks for our close-knit Welsh communities that continue to look after one another,” said Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn.
Families who receive free school lunches are encouraged to contact the Education Department via the council's website www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru or call 01286 685047 to apply for the support.
For help with the cost of living crisis go to: www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/costoflivinghelp