The appointed Mayoresses of Lewisham are urgently calling for help from the local community to provide packed lunches for children who are on free school meals over half-term, after their JustGiving page was temporarily frozen, preventing contributions being made
Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, has appointed three volunteers from the Evelyn Community Store as Mayoresses.
The campaign, which started on September 9, has been introduced to ensure that no child in Lewisham goes hungry over October half-term. It has received a positive response from the public, with £8,498 being raised so far towards the cause at the time of writing.
However, with only a few days to go before half-term, the Mayoresses are still some way short of their £10,000 target, as their movement has stagnated due to their JustGiving page being suspended for no obvious reason – meaning that many people have not been able to make donations for the past week.
Christina Norman, one of the three Mayoresses of Lewisham, along with Dawn Atkinson and Natasha Ricketts, said: ‘’On the 10th October we were on 71% of our target but JustGiving froze our page and asked us to verify our account, which we did straight away. It was frozen for nine days as they told us they were extremely busy. Our page was reinstated on Monday this week and we have four days left.’’
Therefore, they are now more than ever calling for support from anyone who can help, as they strive to reach the target that would prevent the hunger of any child in Lewisham.
‘’We are really hopeful we will meet our target, we have to meet this for the children on free school meals who need a pack lunch during half term.’’
As a result of the pandemic, hunger across the country has become even more prevalent, and there has been a 13% increase in the number of people who have applied to receive free school meals across Lewisham.
This has been mostly due to the heavy financial implications caused by the virus, which has seen many families in Lewisham struggling to put food on the table.
As many parents have lost their jobs, times are tougher than ever, but with this initiative being put in place it is trying to bring the community together as one and prevent the starvation of young children.
Norman added: ‘’It’s something we feel so passionate about. We see child poverty on a daily basis and as we talk to our members, we hear their stories, their concerns and their fears about how they are going to feed their children during half term. The nights are drawing in and it’s getting cold, so parents are having to decide whether to eat or have warmth and light.’’
This initiative follows England international footballer Marcus Rashford’s successful campaign earlier in the year; for the law to be changed which allowed for the extension of free school meals for children during the summer holidays.
‘’As Mayoresses we have been given a platform and a voice to support these families who are in poverty. All the government did with the vouchers during the summer was to put a sticking plaster on the situation. The plaster came off the day they stopped! We will continue to fight this cause in every way we can.’’
You can donate to the Lewisham Packed Lunch Appeal by following this link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/packedlunchappeal?utm_term=A478vZVak