A LOCAL councillor is running free breakfast clubs at his Foodstock community solidarity hub in Andersonstown over the school holidays to support families in need.

SDLP councillor Paul Doherty has worked in collaboration with several nursery, primary and secondary schools in the area to help remove the barrier of hunger in education and is now continuing the initiative during the summer holidays.

The breakfast club runs Monday to Friday from 9am to 10am at Foodstock community solidarity hub in Andersonstown throughout July and August.

Financial support of £27 per child each fortnight to help 93,000 pupils in the North entitled to free school meals and their families during the holidays came to an end in March last year. The families of about 28 per cent of all school pupils were eligible for the grant.

“The removal of holiday hunger payments hit many families hard, both in my community and right across the North," he explained. "This modest payment allowed parents a bit of breathing room over the summer holidays and for many was the difference between keeping their heads above water or struggling to get by. For some it meant being unable to take their children to the cinema or for a day out and having to watch every penny.

“In March a motion was brought forward in the Assembly for a plan to reinstate holiday hunger payments and was supported by Executive parties, but again families face another summer without this money. The Executive has the ability to take action and tackle this issue, meaningless motions do nothing to help children who don’t have enough to eat.

“Once again due to political failure the community sector will step up to support families this summer.

"At Foodstock we will be running breakfast clubs every weekday morning offering healthy food to anyone who wants to call down and I’m sure that there will be similar initiatives popping up in other parts of the North to meet demand.

“Every party was in agreement that the cut to the holiday hunger payment was shameful, but since the return of the Executive the parties in power have failed to do anything about it.

"I cannot understand why they have failed to treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves, but community groups will support vulnerable families who have been let down and try to make sure that no child goes hungry during the summer holidays.”