A housing association stepped up to the plate like footballer and free meals campaigner Marcus Rashford to keep children on an estate fed over the half term break.
Cartrefi Conwy pledged to provide hot meals as part of the holiday activities organised by the Tŷ Llywelyn Youth Club on the Tre Cwm estate in Llandudno.
After the activities were curtailed by the Welsh Government’s firebreak lockdown, the organisation ensured the youngsters still received their free meals which they were able to collect as a takeaway every lunchtime thanks to the funding from Cartrefi.
During the first week of the holiday, they were able to enjoy arts and crafts, games and sporting sessions.
In recent years, the 400-home estate has been transformed by a £4.3 million makeover to upgrade the properties and a massive environmental improvement programme.
Megan Eldon, Cartrefi Conwy’s Community Involvement Co-ordinator, said: “I’ve been working with the volunteers at the Tŷ Llywelyn Youth Club at the estate’s community centre who have been putting together a range of activities giving children something fun to do during the half-term break.
“But we felt it was important for the welfare of children attending the Holiday Club that they also got to enjoy a hot meal.
“Sadly, as we weren’t able to run the second week of activities as we had planned due to the Welsh Government restrictions, we decided to continue providing hot meals. Parents were contacted and given individual times when meals can be collected from the community centre.”
She added: “It’s vital we look after children living on the Tre Cwm estate and getting a hot meal is something we felt was so important. We also have to thank Llandudno Lions who gave a cash donation toward the cost of the food.
“The scheme proved to be a huge success and it’s just a shame we have had to curtail the second week of activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Andrew Sturdy, a teaching assistant at Ysgol Craig y Don who also helps run the Tŷ Llywelyn Youth Club, helped run the Holiday Club.
He said: “The half-term holiday club is really an extension of Tŷ Llywelyn Youth Club. It’s a chance for youngsters to get together and enjoy various activities whether it’s arts and crafts, kite making, video games or sports.
“When the weather is kind, we will play cricket, rounders, golf, dodge ball and sometimes football. We try to avoid football as the kids can play that anytime.
“We started the scheme in the summer holidays about three years ago and it’s proved a big hit. We are getting around 20 youngsters at each session.”
He added: “In the summer holidays we try and take in some trips such as to Bounce Below. And we have had funding from Children in Need in the past while we take on things like bag packs to raise some money ourselves.
“It’s brilliant that, thanks to Cartrefi Conwy, we are able to give each youngster that comes to sessions a hot meal whether it’s pasta, pizza, fish fingers, sausages or burgers.
“It’s just so important for the welfare of the children and I’m really grateful to Cartrefi Conwy and Llandudno Lions for making this possible and for allowing Megan Eldon to spend the fortnight with us and helping out.”
Keren Humphreys, who lives on the housing estate adjacent to Tre Cwm, volunteers as a cook at Tŷ Llywelyn Community Centre and says she has enjoyed preparing meals for those youngsters attending the Holiday Club.
She said: “I normally volunteer at the community centre just making teas and coffees in the cafe. However, it’s been great making meals for the youngsters. There’s a range of hot meals available and we have done a menu for each week.
“Children can, if they wish, have a sandwich but we do prefer them to have a hot meal. It’s a shame the activities couldn’t go ahead the second week but we still be preparing meals and parents will be contacted so children can collect them by appointment.”
Violet Sturdy, 14, a pupil of Ysgol John Bright, says the Coronavirus pandemic has been horrible but at least the holiday club had been somewhere to meet friends and take part in activities.
She said: “I enjoy video games and basically meeting my friends. It’s better than watching TV all day. As my dad helps run the club and does some cooking on youth club nights, I can’t say the food is bad!
“But it really is a good idea to make sure everyone who comes gets a hot meal. I know some kids that come here who wouldn’t get one otherwise, not a lunchtime anyway.”
Millie Thomas, nine, who attends Ysgol Craig y Don, added: “She said: “I also like the dinners. Pizza is my favourite. It’s good to be able to have something to eat while we are here and with our friends.
“The virus has been terrible and stopped us all from doing things. I’m just glad to be able to come here.”
Rhys Hughes-Bell, 10, who attends Ysgol Tudno, was equally enthusiastic.
He said: “I’ve been coming to the youth club since I was eight. I quite enjoy doing arts and crafts, it’s probably better than sitting playing on my Xbox all day.
“The food is brilliant; fish fingers and burgers are great and it’s better than a Pot Noodle. I think everyone who comes likes the food.”