You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
I never expected to have something in common with a 22-year-old Manchester United and England professional football player, yet here we are.
Like Marcus Rashford, I grew up on Free School Meals (FSM) and similarly I have been using my experiences growing up to make a change for the children growing up today.
I still remember the stigma of being separated from my friends to queue in a separate line with other children on FSMs.
That is why, since I became an MP in 2005, I have campaigned for Universal Free School Meals (UFSMs) and set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food in 2010 to campaign for UFSMs, breakfast clubs, high quality school food standards and food provision over the summer holidays to tackle ‘holiday hunger’.
This is something that has been brought into public consciousness recently by the intervention of Marcus Rashford, but as he has acknowledged: this isn’t a new Coronavirus-related problem.
We have known for years that, on the approximately 170 days a year when the school gates are shut, some children will not receive regular, healthy or substantial meals. This has a negative impact on their development and learning.
With the effects of the pandemic expected to stay with us all for many months or even years to come, it was callous for the Government to expect that all families on low incomes would be able to provide substantial and healthy food during the holidays. Many of these families will be on furlough, not knowing if their job will still exist when the scheme comes to an end or will have had their finances significantly squeezed because of lockdown.
I welcome the Government’s U-turn, that will see all 1.3 million children eligible for FSMs able to continue accessing food provision for free during the summer holidays. But the Prime Minister’s admission that he wasn’t aware of the campaign until the day of the U-turn is testament to his Government’s tone-deafness to children growing up in poverty.
Because of this, I will continue to campaign until no child goes without food in the UK.
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website I never expected to have something in common with a 22-year-old Manchester United and England...
Sharon Hodgson MP has today (Tuesday 16th June) welcomed the Government’s U-turn on funding free school meals over the summer holidays.
(Photo from National School Meals Week, 2018)
This U-turn follows the Labour Party’s ‘Holidays without Hunger’ campaign and Manchester United, Marcus Rashford’s letter to all MPs calling for the U-turn.
3,616 children in Washington and Sunderland West are eligible for Free School Meals and will benefit from the extension of funding for free school meals provision over the summer holidays.
With the added pressure of the Coronavirus crisis plunging families into deeper poverty and social distancing as well as added pressures raising questions on whether the usual holiday lunch schemes may run, many families are rightly concerned about how they will afford food during the summer holidays.
Sharon, who has been campaigning on free school meals since becoming an MP in 2005, said:
“Like Marcus Rashford, I grew up on free school meals, so I know how important they are to families on low incomes.
“That is why I set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food in 2010 to campaign for better free school meal provision.
“This isn’t a new problem, we know that some children go hungry during the summer holidays in ‘normal’ times. But we aren’t in ‘normal’ times.
“I welcome the Government’s U-turn on this, but they should never have delayed on this. They were shamed into backing down instead of doing the right thing in the first place.
“Children are at a heightened risk of going hungry this summer as the Covid-19 crisis hits family incomes, and charities and food banks struggle to provide the same level of holiday support.
“I will continue to join MPs, charities, organisations and Local Authorities to campaign to keep the importance of free school meals and holiday hunger on the agenda at all times, not just during a pandemic.”
Notes to Editors
1. Nearly 1.3 million children in England are eligible for free school meals which are usually provided in school during term-time. However, while schools have been closed during the Covid-19 pandemic a voucher scheme has been established instead. Schools are also able to provide alternative provision, such as food packs, which can be claimed for from the Department of Education.
2. The voucher scheme provides £15 worth of vouchers a week per child eligible for free school meals which can be redeemed in the following supermarkets: Aldi, Asda, M&S, McColl’s, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools
3. In England’s poorest areas, summer holiday hunger schemes are being starved of cash, leaving many children short of food (2019) https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/aug/14/uk-holiday-hunger-schemes-deprived-children-summer
4. Labour’s ‘Holidays without Hunger’ campaign launched on Sunday 14th June. For more information click here: http://labour.org.uk/holidayswithouthunger/
Sharon Hodgson MP has today (Tuesday 16th June) welcomed the Government’s U-turn on funding free school meals over the summer holidays. (Photo from National School Meals Week, 2018) This U-turn...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2020 number 128
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2020 number 128
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2020 number 128 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2020 number 128 Read more
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo Column below, or on the Sunderland Echo website.
This week, some lockdown restrictions have been lifted. You can now spend time outdoors, in a group of up to six people from different households whilst maintaining social distancing; you can visit car showrooms and some children have returned to school.
I know that these changes will come with a mixture of both anxiety and relief. We all want to see our friends and family again and return to some sense of normality; but if we are to do that, we must do so safely.
Now is not the time for complacency, or for a drive to Barnard Castle to test your eyesight.
I know that the warm weather can be tempting and the fact that the Prime Minister’s own advisor was seen to be breaking lockdown rules makes it seem like the Government’s guidelines are advisory, rather than compulsory.
But if we do want to hug our friends and family again, if we want to attend large gatherings again and if we want to continue to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, then we must continue to follow the Government’s guidelines strictly.
That means staying home as much as possible. Where you do go out, for business or leisure, you must stay 2 metres away from people who are not from your household, where possible.
By doing this, we will continue to protect ourselves and others.
I would like to thank everyone who has made unbelievable sacrifices to follow the Government’s lockdown guidance. My thoughts are with those who have missed out on key life milestones, missed out on spending time with friends and family, and tragically missed out on saying goodbye to loved ones.
Whilst it feels like we are beginning to gain back some freedom, please remember that the Coronavirus pandemic is not over yet.
We still all have a part to play in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our NHS.
With that in mind, I continue to put pressure on the Government to safely lift lockdown restrictions, in a way that follows the science and the reality on the ground.
For example, the North East has the highest rate of Coronavirus infections in England, so to lift lockdown restrictions based on Coronavirus rates in the South West (which now has the lowest rate of infections) would be irresponsible.
I continue to make representations to the Government on these very important issues. My team and I are busy helping constituents navigate the guidance and the various furlough and support schemes that have been introduced and are helping constituents fight for their rights to access what they are entitled to.
If any of my constituents have any questions or concerns about the lockdown restrictions or anything else, then please do email Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do all that I can to help you.
ECHO COLUMN: Now is not the time for complacency ... or for a drive to Barnard Castle to test your eyesight.
You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo Column below, or on the Sunderland Echo website. This week, some lockdown restrictions have been lifted. You can now spend time outdoors, in...
Due to Coronavirus, the dates regarding the appeal inquiry for a gasification plant to be built in Hillthorn Park have changed. The inquiry had been adjourned until June, but this has been extended.
Please see the dates below:
14 August 2020 - Deadline for completion of negotiations and confirmation to PINs of withdrawal or continuation of the appeal.
28 August 2020 - If required: Deadline for submission of:
Any updated evidence, although this must be exceptional;
Intended application for costs.
15 September 2020 - If required: Inquiry resumes.
15/18, 22-25 September 2020 - If required: Inquiry dates, to include an evening session.
Whilst MPs cannot get involved in the planning process, due to the great concern my constituents have raised about this gasification plant, I have represented the views of my constituents at every opportunity and I oppose this planning application.
You can see more of Sharon Hodgson work on Rolton Kilbride here >>
Due to Coronavirus, the dates regarding the appeal inquiry for a gasification plant to be built in Hillthorn Park have changed. The inquiry had been adjourned until June, but...
Further response from Highways England regarding noise levels on the A1(M) at Washington - between junctions 63 to 65 - query raised by constituents.
Further response from Highways England regarding noise levels on the A1(M) at Washington - between junctions 63 to 65 - query raised by constituents. Read more
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website.
Tomorrow (Friday 8th May), the nation will mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Like all events planned since March this year, tomorrow’s Victory in Europe: VE Day commemoration will be different to how it was initially planned; but the country will still come together to pay tribute to the Second World War generation and remember the sacrifices made by British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces.
Whilst the country is facing some of the most challenging times since the Second World War, we are united in awe at the spirit of Captain Tom Moore who has raised over £32 million for NHS Charities Together, after setting a target of £1,000.
But Captain Moore isn’t the only veteran who is raising money and continuing to serve his community.
Former service personnel across the country are joining charities and volunteers to provide: food packages to those in need, someone to talk to so that people don’t get lonely during the lockdown and a helping hand to anyone who needs it. Veterans in Crisis Sunderland are the perfect example of communities coming together, even during lockdown.
We are also seeing 20,000 serving personnel play their part in the fight against Coronavirus. Helping with the ambulance service, delivering personal protective equipment, setting up mobile testing sites and flying Brits home from their nightmare holiday situations are just a few examples of how our armed forces continue to adapt to serve us.
As the new Shadow Veterans’ Minister, I am proud of our armed service personnel, past and present, and believe that we should all share that pride, not just on a few days of the year, but every day.
Our armed forces do so much for us, and like all public services including the NHS, we need to do more than just thank them. We need to make sure that they are protected, and they have the support they need.
That is why one of my first tasks as Shadow Veterans’ Minister was to call on the Government to re-open the Veterans UK helpline, which provides valuable support to veterans but has closed due to Coronavirus. Other businesses and charities have been able to re-direct their helplines to a working from home setting, so there is no reason why the Government can’t do the same to support our veterans.
Tomorrow, like many across the country, I will be joining in with the VE Day commemoration and remembrance of those who served in World War II and will be giving thanks to our veterans and serving personnel, who continue to serve us and make us proud.
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website. Tomorrow (Friday 8th May), the nation will mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Like all...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Apr 2020 number 127
Click on the image above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Apr 2020 number 127
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Apr 2020 number 127 Click on the image above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Apr 2020 number 127 Read more
Responses received following Ayton public meeting, re concerns about the A1 noise and litter - Ayton and Rickleton, Picktree Washington
DEFRA Response above - click on image to read letterHighways England update response above - click on image to read letter Read the Response from Highways England 07/04/2020 here >... Read more
Sharon has received a response to her letter to the Prime Minister regarding Nissan and Coronavirus, from Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Business and Industry.
You can read the letter by clicking on the image above
Sharon has received a response to her letter to the Prime Minister regarding Nissan and Coronavirus, from Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Business and Industry. You can read the letter by...