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Vicar helps children in need; REVEREND BELL DISMISSES CLAIMS THAT FUNDS ARE NOT BEING PUT TO PROPER USE.

Byline: AARON GREENAWAY aaron.jamesgreenaway@reachplc.com

A VICAR who has been coordinating efforts to ensure children in her parish do not go without this half-term has revealed that a significant amount of those being helped are working families or full-time carers.

Becca Bell, vicar at six churches in different villages in south-east Cornwall, has been leading community efforts to provide food boxes for local families with the assistance of parishioners and Horizon Farm Shop, near St Cleer.

Asked if there was any basis for the claims by critics of the half-term meal schemes that those receiving the parcels were families on benefits with large TVs, new cars and expensive phones, Reverend Bell revealed that the community effort, which was targeting 47 families whose children are eligible for free school meals with the food boxes, was actually predominantly families where both parents were working.

She said: "I met some of the parents to hand over their food parcels. They were all working parents, fami- lies where both parents were working parents. They obviously have to juggle their hours to be at home with the kids, so they do lose money over half-term because they can't do as many hours, because the expense of paying for child care becomes counter-productive as they end up paying more per hour for the child care then they are earning."

Reverend Bell also described how the scheme had brought together the tight-knit communities of the parishes she serves. She said: "It started when I saw the number of people outraged at the Government for the vote to not issue free school meal vouchers, so it was a kind of knee-jerk reaction to that. I thought at least if nothing else I could at least go down to the shops myself and buy some food for people, but, hopefully, I could get some support from the community too.

"I called local schools to find out how many kids would be affected in my patch because I've got six churches in this area in addition to church folk to ask for financial assistance, which many did, and then I spoke to Horizon Farm Shop to see how they could help."

Kate Martin, of Horizon Farm Shop, added: "Once we got the call from Becca, we were on board and said we'd do everything we can to get boxes packed with supplies together, which we managed to organise in just a couple of days. There's such a community spirit here, and we like to play our part in that to get involved and help everyone we could."

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Reverend Becca Bell at St Cleer church

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Author:AARON GREENAWAY aaron.jamesgreenaway@reachplc.com
Publication:The Plymouth Herald (Plymouth, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2020
Words:438
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