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Free school meals could be available to everyone no matter what you earn

About time…

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A plan to make free school meals available to everyone has been proposed, in a bid to tackle child poverty and the rise in food banks. 

This would mean thousands more children could be entitled to free school meals, as a way of supporting households on low incomes, the Mirror reports.

New research by the Mayor of London found that around 400,000 children in the capital have ‘very low food security’. This means they are, or could be at risk of being, without proper access to affordable and nutritious food.

These findings highlight the enormity of the problem, as hundreds of thousands of kids aren’t getting proper nutrition at school or at home – and that’s just in London, up here in Greater Manchester we have some of the highest levels of child poverty and deprivation in the country.

Unison

To tackle the problem, the London Assembly has approved a motion asking the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to jointly write to the Secretary of State for Education and plead the case for universal free school meals for all kids.

At the moment, free school meals are usually given to those on low incomes who receive state support – but families could be missing out on millions.

Due to a loophole, where the money is given back to the company if a pupil doesn’t use their full allowance by the end of the day, thousands of families are losing out.

Luke Bramhall, from Children North East, said: “This is a national issue. From Brighton to Middlesbrough, from Manchester to Scunthorpe, Children North East has spoken to over 65,000 pupils in more than 180 schools across England as part of ‘Poverty Proofing the School Day’ which identifies barriers to equality of experience in education.

“Across the country we are told about how the money allocated to children on free school meals is taken off them at the end of the day – and that children are going without as a result.”

Fairholme Primary School

The charity is now calling on the Government to do something about this, by giving the allowance back to help struggling parents feed their children.

Kath Wade, at Tyne & Wear Citizens, added: “It’s simply not right that this is happening. All it requires is a simple change to an IT system to ensure the change from lunch goes to those pupils who need it most.

“A hungry child can’t concentrate, a child that can’t concentrate can’t learn, and a child that can’t learn can’t reach their full potential. And isn’t that what we all want?”

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‘Inspirational’ teacher with no underlying health conditions sadly dies from coronavirus

RIP Donna Coleman

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A 42-year-old teacher with no underlying health conditions has sadly died from coronavirus.

Donna Coleman, described as an ‘inspirational’ teacher, returned to her role at Burnley College when schools reopened even though she told her family she was ‘scared’.

Mourners lined the streets this week to pay their respects to the much-loved teacher, with tributes pouring in. One emotional message simply read: “This lady changed my son’s life.”

Donna admitted to her family that she ‘didn’t feel safe’, but she wanted to go back to the job ‘she loved’.

JustGiving

Now her sister Vicki, 45, has called for teachers to be given vaccine priority to protect them, telling the Mirror that the government needs to do more to help keep them safe.

She said: “We need teachers to be vaccinated as soon as possible… Donna told me in September that she was scared.

“Don’t get me wrong, she wanted to go back – she loved her job – but she said staff members were terrified.”

After she began to suffer from breathing problems on December 29th, Donna was rushed into Blackburn Royal Hospital, where she messaged Vicki on New Year’s Day.

She promised to FaceTime her sister the next day, but didn’t manage the call, as by this point she was already on a ventilator despite having no underlying conditions.

Vicki added: “She had messaged friends asking them to look after her family, so she must have been scared.

“My dad and sister went to see her and came back home looking shocked, saying, ‘she’s not coming out of this.’

“I went the next day, I held her hand, I said goodbye. That wasn’t Donna, she wasn’t there, she’d gone.”

Sadly, Vicki says she doesn’t think ‘we’d be having this conversation’ if schools and colleges had closed earlier.

A JustGiving page has been created in Donna’s memory, and has already smashed its target of £1,000, having raised more than £10.5k at the time of writing – you can donate here.

Our thoughts are with Donna’s family at this difficult time 

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Police to issue £800 fines to anyone attending house parties of more than 15 people

“Next week we will be introducing a new £800 fine for those attending house parties”

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Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

From next week anyone attending an illegal gathering of more than 15 people risks being hit with a £800 fine.

Priti Patel has given police the power to dish out new £800 fines to anyone who either organises or attends a large house party or other gathering.

The home secretary announced the new measures yesterday at a Downing Street press conference, with the fines going up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offences.

Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

She said: “Next week we will be introducing a new £800 fine for those attending house parties, which will double for each repeat offence up to a maximum level of £6,400.

“These fines will apply to those who attend illegal gatherings of more than 15 people in homes.

“The science is clear. Such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant risk to public health, not only to those in attendance but also to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.”

Martin Hewitt, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, also spoke at the press conference, where he said the new announcement was welcome news.

gmpolice / Twitter

He said: “We have repeatedly made it clear that house parties and other large gatherings should not be happening.

“They are dangerous, irresponsible and totally unacceptable.

“I hope the likelihood of an increased fine acts as an incentive for those people who are thinking of attending or organising such events.”

According to Mr Hewitt, 250 fines of £10,000 have been dished out across England to people who have organised large gatherings since August.

He added: “I make no apology for those fines… Now anyone who attends one of these gatherings can expect to receive a £800 fine”.

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Mum-of-two raffles off stunning £600k five-bedroom house and Ferrari for just £2

Wait until you see inside the stunning house

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Jennifer Matthews

After spending nearly a year locked down in our homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all thought about moving house at some point, just for a change of scenery.

Well, if you are thinking about moving somewhere a bit bigger, then we’ve got just the thing for you – a stunning £590,000 bespoke five-bedroom house.

And in even better news, you could grab this beautiful house for just £2, as owners Jennifer and David Matthews are raffling off the property, and are throwing in their Ferrari as well.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

The couple built Bramble Lodge – which is located between Bolton and Chorley, near to Adlington – from scratch eight years ago, but now want to sell up and move on.

They came to the difficult decision of selling their ‘dream home’ as they need a more manageable property to clean and run, because of Jennifer’s health condition.

Known as Ventricular tachycardia, it’s an incurable heart condition that causes a fast, abnormal heart rate, and means the mum-of-two could die at any moment.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

However, the coronavirus crisis has made it very difficult to sell the property, which is why they decided to try their luck on popular raffle site Raffall.

This is good news for anyone dreaming of moving into a huge, new family home, as the keys to the five-bedroom detached house – which is worth over half a million and is located in a sought-after postcode – could be yours for as little as £2.

Bramble Lodge is set in its own grounds, hidden away behind a dry stone wall with electric gates for maximum privacy and security, and surrounded by stunning gardens, complete with trees and even a swing.

There’s lots of parking space, with the large drive able to accommodate four cars, which will include the 2004 Ferrari 360 Spider that you claim alongside the house if you win.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

Once inside, there are three beautiful reception rooms and a huge kitchen area with a breakfast bar and an even an Aga.

Head up the elegant spiral staircase to five double sized bedrooms, including one with an en-suite and slipper bath. The second bedroom has a stunning feature window with the staircase to the kitchen area.

The area – once home to Ryan Giggs – boasts outstanding primary schools, a nearby train station with trains to Manchester, has good motorway links, and is also close to the award-winning The Cherry Tree at Blackrod.

Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews

The Matthews need to sell all the tickets on Raffall by February 14th, or the raffle will end before that if the last ticket sells before that date.

The lucky winner will be chosen at random, so make sure you grab your ticket or tickets ASAP, as they’re sure to sell quickly.

You can find out more and grab a ticket on the Raffall site here – good luck!

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