Arcon are delighted to announce Manchester Secondary Pupil Referral Unit as one of the winners of our Community Funding Bid, having been awarded £983.99! The Referral Unit offers pupils aged 11-16years of age who are having difficulties in mainstream school and have experienced ‘disjointed educational histories’ the opportunity to work 1:1 or in small groups with experienced teachers and support staff to provide a wrap around service to address attendance, engagement and attainment needs. The Manchester Secondary PRU has 26 centres across the city demonstrating the need for this bespoke education service at a critical time in the lives of young people.
Arcon’s Community Funding Grant award of £983.99 will support The Mersey Valley Learning Centre breakfast club which provides free daily breakfast to pupils attending the school. What stood out to us at Arcon when assessing funding bid applications was that the pupils at the centre had asked for a breakfast club through their student voice panel which served to emphasise to us the importance and value of the continuation and expansion of the breakfast club to the pupils themselves.
Currently, The Mersey Valley Centre are restricted to offering cold breakfasts for their students, however, with the finances now awarded to them, they will be offering hot foods daily for all pupils attending. The Centre has used the grant to fund ‘blenders and juicers so we can introduce more fruit and vegetables into pupils diets- without them knowing!’ There is now more sustained provision of hot foods, which are currently part donated by other organisations through the acquisition of a new freezer to reduce wastage and increase food life longevity. In addition to this, new cooking equipment such as pans and utensils will be purchased as well as a bank of ingredient essentials. The investment of a new Ipad will allow the students to research recipes and search for local suppliers, allowing them to build a positive relationship with cooking and healthy eating through confidence in their abilities and increased independence.
It is important to note that the breakfast club not only provides a nutritious start for a day of learning, it is also an opportunity for these pupils to experience cooking, often for the first time. Encouraged by staff, students will be educated on making informed, healthier life choices by cooking their own simple and cheap recipe ideas which they can replicate at home. Budgeting and life skills can also be practised through the medium of cooking, supporting the holistic education pupils receive at the centre.
Sadly, not all pupils are fortunate enough to be able enjoy a healthy start to each morning and so many students across the UK go without a breakfast daily, often only enjoying their first meal midway through the day at lunch.
Ms McKenna, a finance officer at The Mersey Valley Centre, stated ‘58% of school pupils live in the most income deprived households in the UK and as a result, we have a high proportion of our children and families who have access to foodbanks and charities for support with food and clothing’.
The importance of a free breakfast will mean that many pupils at the school will now benefit from two free meals a day including lunch, which will ease financial pressures of family and provide them with sustenance for their day at school.
At Arcon, we were only too happy to assist the school in their ambitions to protect the longevity of this service, clearly so valued and valuable to the schools learners. We wish to continue our interactions with Manchester Secondary PRU as we steadfastly believe that the opportunities offered through the breakfast club are having a direct impact on a pertinent and ever present issue in our society