Published on

12 October 2023

Community store and affordable uniform part of £250,000 fund

A new community store and support to make school uniform more affordable are part of newly funded projects to help people in hardship in Wokingham Borough.

Grey school trousers, a white school shirt and navy school cardigan folded and placed next to a pair of black school shoes

These projects have been launched thanks to the £250,000 Hardship Fund which Wokingham Borough Council has allocated to boost delivery of its Tackling Poverty Strategy.

The Hardship Fund will deliver long term, high value projects designed to give a much greater long term value to our residents than the cost of the initial seed-funding investment.   

More than £100,000 has been awarded by Wokingham Borough Council in the first phase of this work to voluntary organisations to support residents in the borough who are experiencing hardship. Funding has been awarded for: 

  • £32,000 for Roots Community Store - a community food project by Wokingham Foodbank, SHARE and First Days Children’s Charity 
  • £35,000 for School Days – Affordable Uniform For All - improving access to no/low cost uniform and other essential learning tools by First Days Children’s Charity 
  • £37,000 for School Days – Affordable For All - a project to poverty proof the school day by First Days Children’s Charity 

About the projects

Roots Community Store will be a community pantry with a base and outreach across the borough. It will provide fresh foods, canned/dried goods and other household essentials. It will create new and innovative ways for residents to access low cost, healthy food. 

School Days – Affordable Uniform For All will improve access to no/low cost uniform and other essential learning tools for students at schools in the borough. This will ensure students from low-income families can access free or low-cost accessible learning materials, including textbooks, stationery, digital devices, and specialised equipment, to ensure that all children have full access to learning opportunities. 

School Days – Affordable For All will deliver an innovative pilot programme with local schools to lower the cost of school day. The council will be funding more projects with our voluntary and community partners to support local people in the coming months.

A paper bag of groceries on it's side with eggs, spaghetti, onion, tomatoes, a lemon, a bottle of oil and two tins spilling out

Long term solutions for residents

Cllr Rachel Bishop-Firth, executive member for equalities, inclusion and fighting poverty, said: “The council chose to allocate £250,000 from the council budget to fight the causes of poverty in Wokingham Borough.  

“While grants from central government have been extremely valuable in providing short term relief during the current cost of living crisis, we wanted to find longer term solutions for our residents.  These projects will increase options and improve access to education and healthy food for residents living on low incomes.

“Because they improve the infrastructure for supporting residents in accessing essentials, these projects will have a lasting impact much greater than the initial funding. I’m delighted to be working with our partners to get these projects up and running so they can make a difference to our residents as quickly as possible.”

Supporting people out of poverty

More projects funded by the Hardship Fund and the Household Support Fund (which is funded by central Government) will be launched in the coming months.

The projects are informed by the borough’s Tackling Poverty Strategy. This strategy aims to support people out of poverty, strengthen community resilience to prevent people falling into poverty and improving life opportunities for those living in poverty. 

All the latest cost of living help and advice for the borough can be found on the cost of living help hub

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