Norwich FISH clubs fill food and fun gap for sixth summer
Local churches, businesses and charities worked alongside Norwich foodbank this summer to run 8 FISH clubs providing over 400 children with a good meal and activities such as Taiko drumming, rapping and robot wars; filling the gap that some families struggle with when schools break up.
This summer holiday Norwich foodbank worked with churches, charities and businesses to deliver 8 FISH (Food and Fun in School Holidays) Clubs across Norwich, Lakenham and Wymondham with over 400 children attending at least once. This is the sixth summer that the FISH Clubs have run, with growing numbers each year. In 2019 the joint effort amounted to 33 sessions and over 1,270 meals served, providing extra support to families who struggle when schools break up and free school meals subsequently end.
As well as providing a free hot meal, drinks and dessert, each club also offers free fun activities at every session to ensure the children have a great time and enjoy their school holidays. New activities this summer included a Taiko drumming workshop, a visit from the Norwich Youth for Christ mobile recording studio Tracks resulting in recordings of the children singing and rapping, Open Trust robot wars workshop and stArt Studio art and craft provision.
Hannah Worsley, Norwich foodbank’s Project Manager said: “Many parents have told us over the years that they dread the holidays due to the extra expense of food and entertainment and many can’t afford to do much. Schools have reported that children accessing FISH are excited to share what they have been able to do and take part in at the clubs.
"The clubs have strong links with their local schools and they help to identify families who would benefit from this support, as well as identifying families accessing the
foodbanks when schools are closed. We are extremely grateful to the churches, schools and volunteers who enable FISH to take place – providing venues, people to cook and serve the meal, people to support the children and the activities – and all those who have donated food and activities for us to enjoy.”
KPE4 granted £5,000 for the summer holiday FISH Clubs. Generous donations were also received from businesses including dessert-restaurant Figbar for two picnics (pictured) and Burgers Plus on Sweetbriar who supplied food for two barbecues. Tesco provided picnic bags and fundraising from The Church of St Peter Mancroft, through ‘Six Things Sunday’, resulted in a large amount of supermarket gift vouchers being donated which contributed to the costs of the fresh food items needed by clubs to cook a healthy meal.
This summer the FISH Clubs also enjoyed activities provided by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk Libraries, Chartwells and the Norwich Cathedral Education Team.
Hannah said: “Our Mousehold FISH Club were able to visit Hickling Broad during their last session, supported by Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Children and Nature fund. We were delighted to continue partnerships with Chartwells who work with schools on better nutrition and were able to run some foody based activities at 3 clubs this summer including DIY cereal bars and a smoothie bike. We also welcomed visits from the Norwich Cathedral education team who led sessions and activities at our sites.”
“The Catton FISH Club also had a trip out to the local fire station and earlier in the year, the Earlham FISH Club went to their local station and had a visit from the local police including talking on the radios and exploring the police car!”
Head of Norfolk Libraries and Information Jan Holden said: “Norfolk Libraries were delighted to be able to team up with FISH to offer reading activities to children during the summer holidays. With the support of our mobile library team and pop up libraries, we were able to offer children a great selection of books for them to borrow and read. Some families were not library members so being able to extend our service to children who don’t usually visit the libraries was fantastic. Many children were able to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge and keep their reading going throughout the long summer holidays. We will continue to support the work that FISH do and look forward to working with them in the future”.
Hannah said: “Tesco and Morrisons also provided free on-site cooking activities for three of our clubs – cooking and baking is always a popular activity with the children who attend and we were pleased to have the supermarket’s support once again.”
Photo: Jamie Barbutt of Figbar and Salt restaurants who donated food to FISH Clubs