Filling the Gap

Published on: 4 May 2021

Nationally, up to three million estimated children are at risk of being hungry in the school holidays*, and for some families, the recent season of coronavirus lockdown has brought additional fear, worry and hardship, and left them facing greater adversity than ever before.

It was for this reason that in April 2020 the Diocese of Norwich ‘Filling the Gap’ project was born out of a vision from the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich to help families through the upcoming summer holidays.

Working collaboratively, colleagues from the Diocese of Norwich Education Team and Children, Youth and Families contacted the 110 Church of England schools and academies across the diocese and coordinated with headteachers who were keen to participate in the project. In each school catchment, contact was then made with the local church to find volunteers who would be willing to make weekly food deliveries to the families in their area, before headteachers went on to identify families within their school who would benefit and value being provided with food during the school summer holiday.

The project, which is grant funded, came together with the insight and support of many partners including local food banks, the Salvation Army and SOUL Foundation and meant that the model of working quickly evolved differently across the diocese depending on the number of families being provided for and the level of involvement by volunteers at local level. In total, 128 families are receiving a weekly food hamper for the six weeks of the summer holiday, together with a weekly activity bag containing craft or sporting resources to additionally address the social and physical provision for these families.

The aim was that the food hampers and activity packs would be a blessing to families – expressing our missional values and love in a very real and practical way – and the response has been of great encouragement. The Revd David Smith, Priestin- Charge, for the Raveningham & Waveney Benefices says: “We were delighted to hear from Anna about ‘Filling the Gap’ and pleased to learn that Ellingham Church of England Primary School were very keen to get involved. We’ve been able to deliver food parcels to eight families each Tuesday and it’s been great to hear just what a huge and welcome difference this has been making to the household. The families have been incredibly appreciative and always eager to explore the boxes, not least the children to find out the latest offering of crafts an fun activities to enjoy! For us as a church, and for me as a minister, it has opened doors to building  pastoral relationships that may not otherwise have been made so directly and we hope to continue contact with the families in some way as well as through our close engagement with the school.”

Holiday hunger is not a new issue and sadly it is not one that is going to go away anytime soon. Therefore, it is hoped that with help, the legacy of ‘Filling the Gap’ will be that some level of support can be sustained locally to provide for the families who need it most during future holidays too.

*Hungry Holidays. A report on hunger amongst children in school holidays. Published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger.

This article is from...

Articles in this issue...

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:8

I had the privilege of leading the drive-in Songs of Praise at the Norfolk Showground


An opportunity to build anew

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity" - Colossians 4:5.


Thorpe St Andrew celebrate the summer

Like many parishes Thorpe St Andrew has enjoyed online worship and fellowship during the lockdown, through Zoom and Facebook, but after returning to worship in church in July, they wanted to do something to celebrate the summer which was safe, but face to face.


Tap and grab

In the parish of Mundesley, the PCC explored the issue of giving in services across their two congregations as we’ve always struggled and often sought additional fundraising to bridge the gap.


Experiment pays off

How can a church future proof its giving? Well, it’s a journey, and it’s one we’re still on but these are some of the steps we – as a market town parish church - have taken so far.


Supporting the church, supporting community

When lockdown began our first thoughts were how we could meet the pastoral needs of the church and wider community and provide worship. We soon had systems in place to keep the church running while our buildings were closed.


Be prepared for Christmas in a variety of ways

It seems a lifetime ago when I penned the article for PCC News last year, encouraging churches to hold services and events in a variety of ways so that communities could find God in different places.


Lunch supplies for families

Here at St Mary’s Church, Watton we have been very busy.


Looking after Ludham in the Waterside Benefice

“We must do something,” said Dr Christine Wall at the end of a PCC Fund Raising Committee Meeting in Ludham on Tuesday 10 March, as we realised that lockdown was imminent.


Tweaking in Pakefield

The lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us kicking and screaming into the 21st Century!


Keep up to date

Subscribe to our eNews for a snapshot of news, events and resources, usually emailed once a fortnight

Signup to newsletter