A new pilot project has been launched to support some of the most vulnerable families in the Milford Haven area, helping them to get through what is perhaps the most difficult part of the pandemic so far.
The ‘Milford Community Action’ project is aiming to help up to 100 local families who are experiencing financial hardship, require additional support from local services, or whose children care for other family members.
There will be a variety of practical support given in an attempt to help families both in the short term, and also guidance to help them build for a brighter future.
Resources will include food packs, the provision of slow cookers, cook books and live cookery sessions, educational activity packs for children, IT resources for pupils without access to digital devices, budgeting tools, and signposting to helpful organisations.
The 12-week project has been designed and developed in a partnership between Milford Haven School, Milford Youth Matters and Pembrokeshire County Council.
“There will be widespread engagement across Milford Haven, with local businesses and groups already pledging their support,” said Gemma Baker from Milford Haven School, who is co-ordinating the project with Dayle Gibby from Milford Youth Matters.
“Milford Haven Rotary Club were the first local group to contribute to the project, assisting with the delivery of meal packs as well as generously donating 30 slow cookers to be given to families in need.
“This collaborative approach is vital to enrich the experience of those families taking part, as well as strengthening community links and making the project sustainable for the future.”
Cllr Tessa Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Social Services, said it was a very welcome and timely initiative.
“This prolonged period of lockdown is difficult for everyone, but for those for whom life is already tough, it’s even harder,” she said.
“Hopefully this project will provide ongoing support for families, and hope where it is needed most.”
One aspect of the project is tackling food poverty, and so families will receive guidance on life skills such as meal-planning and household budgeting, as well as weekly food packs.
Another aspect is family wellbeing and welfare, and so the TAF (Teams around the Family) and Sport Pembrokeshire teams in the Council will put together activity and play packs, baking kits and craft kits, as well as increasing access to books and traditional games to encourage family participation.
Home-schooling will be supported by providing IT resources for digitally disadvantaged pupils, and period poverty is being addressed through the supply of feminine hygiene packs.
And alongside this, families are being signposted to useful advice and support from CAB (Citizen’s Advice Bureau) and other local organisations which can help with employment skills or training.
Darren Mutter, the Council’s Head of Children’s Services, said the aim is to create a range of positive outcomes.
“We hope that beyond their engagement with the project, families will feel more positive about their ability to improve their own circumstances; more confident in knowing where to seek support and more connected to their community,” he said.
“This isn’t just about dealing with the issues of food poverty or financial hardship but more about providing ongoing community support for the children and young people and their parents who need us.”
Headteacher of Milford Haven School, Ms Ceri-Ann Morris, said: “We are immensely proud to support this project and utilise the school facilities to help our community. Schools are at the heart of every community, they are the common link that ties everyone in the community together.
“Everyone knows someone connected to the school, and the work of Miss Baker (Milford Haven School) together with Dayle Gibby will be the driving force in getting resources out to the people most in need within our catchment area.”
Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning, said: “Once again Milford Haven School and Milford Youth Matters are demonstrating the fantastic things that can be achieved when you work with others for the benefit of the local community. Gemma Baker and Dayle Gibby continue to find ways to seize opportunities as they arise and make great things happen in Milford – they are excellent ambassadors and role models for not just young people but everyone in our community.”
The pilot project is funded by Pembrokeshire County Council with numerous contributions, both financial and time, from local groups and businesses which will further develop the positive reach of the project.
If successful, the County Council will be looking to roll it out with local partners in the Fishguard area.
Lead image: From the MCA project are Fiona Griffiths from Milford Haven School, Scott Powell from Team around the Family, and Chris Davies from Milford Haven Rotary. (Pembrokeshire Council)