Netherley Youth & Community Initiative, Merseyside | An #ActiveAte case study

12 September 2019

Netherley Youth & Community Initiative is a community hub located in South Liverpool offering services to local families and individuals and promoting healthier, happier lifestyles.

Based at the heart of the community they are a lifeline for the hundreds of families they support. They provide services for the local community, offering breakfast, afterschool and play schemes, youth clubs, a gardening project, a food bank, a drop in centre, educational and recreational courses, and a community gym.

School Holiday Provision
During the school holidays the centre runs a play scheme each day of the week, with an average of around 30 children per day attending. The centre works with local schools to identify and distribute free meals to those who would otherwise go without during the school holidays.
Sharon Williams, Project Manager, says: “Families can get support from the school for 38 week of the year to feed their children but without schemes like this what happens over the other 12 weeks? The impact of not having access to school meals is that the child goes either hungry, or goes without healthy foods. Each parent does what they can and if the child does not go hungry then the parent will. We ensure each child has access to breakfast, a snack and can go home with an additional meal.
“The children that visit the play scheme can come in and get a good meal but also have access to activities. There is outside and inside play, access to computers, arts and crafts, they learn cooking skills – they are going to learn how to make breakfast next week.
“As a charity we are tight for money ourselves and we offer a lot of services on a shoestring budget and FareShare helps us do that as we save on food costs.”

Breakfast and afterschool clubs
The centre also runs daily breakfast and afterschool clubs, which currently have around 70 children enrolled. Children are picked up before school and taken along to the centre. Here they receive a healthy breakfast to set them up for the day, and have the opportunity to play and socialise before being dropped off at school.

Sharon Williams, Project Manager says: “The breakfast club gives the children access to a good breakfast. Through FareShare we can provide food such as fresh cereals, fruit, juice, yoghurts and toast or bagels. Whilst they are here they can also take part in sports and activities, if weather is nice they will be outside, and can get involved with the gardening project and water the plants each day.

“It is so important that families in the area have access to the breakfast club; we support families who each have different needs, whether it be health needs, employability needs, or it could just be that they need the additional support in regards to financial hardship that they are facing.

“Food is the basis of what we are set out to do in the community, food makes the world go around. We started doing the breakfast and afterschool clubs because kids were going to school hungry. This was reflected in their schooling because concentration levels were low, they were getting tired and sluggish and so the breakfast clubs encourage the children to eat healthy, do some exercise, and have a more structured day, therefore increasing their concentration and their learning skills.

“This week From FareShare we got yogurts, cereal, juice, butter, cheese, and during the school holidays we tend to get more fresh fruit and vegetables which is really important to our clubs. Yesterday we got Gala melons and the kids loved it, we will always push fruit on the kids and ensure they’re getting that access to healthy food each day.

Netherley Community Centre Impact in Local Community
Netherley Community Centre is directly accessed by around 150 people per week but their impact reaches far wider than that. They are set up to meet the needs of the community in an area where employment is low, and there are minimal local services and resources.
Sharon told us: “We look upon ourselves as being the blood flow of the community, because whenever there is an issue, or a problem, or a need, people know they can come here and they will be supported instantly. I have had a person come in and say I’ve got no food in, and we will empty our fridge and hand it over. We are here to meet people’s needs and that’s why we set up the charity.
“The food from FareShare is a big plus for us, it will be used in a variety of ways, either supporting the afterschool and breakfast provision, providing the food bank, and the cooking classes, plus we disperse the food in the local community. 90% of our families that we support here have been helped by the food we provide.

“The majority of families in this local area are on minimum wage or benefits and it’s hard for them, by the time you pay your rent and bills, what’s left for food? Take a family with three children that will need to buy school uniforms, that’s going to be a big portion of your wages, so the food goes short. This is where the food from FareShare is essential because families are having to restrict the food they buy, so they buy less or they buy cheaper food which isn’t healthy and the contribution from FareShare means we can provide good food and meet those nutritional needs.

“As a charity we are tight for money ourselves and we offer a lot of services on a shoestring budget, FareShare helps us do that as we save on food costs.”

“The food from FareShare is a big plus for us, it will be used in a variety of ways, either supporting the afterschool and breakfast provision, providing the food bank, and the cooking classes, plus we disperse the food in the local community. 90% of our families that we support here have been helped by the food we provide.”