School staff conducted a “military operation” to drop clothing, food and toiletries in a minibus to families in need during the pandemic, a senior official said.
Stuart Huddleston, who was associate principal at Temple Moor High School in Leeds when schools were forced to close due to Covid-19, said staff had seen an increase in requests for support from parents.
Distressed families asked the school for money to help them pay their gas and electricity bills – which they had to refer to their “extended service teams” so they could provide assistance , did he declare.
Read more: Live Covid updates for Leeds as UK infection rates remain at highest level since summer
Mr Huddleston, who was at Temple Moor High School until Easter this year, told the PA News Agency: âMore people were out of work than ever before, especially the low-skilled workforce.
“They were just out of work with no kind of leave safety net, so they didn’t have the money, and obviously they needed more support, so it increased dramatically.”
He added that parent support workers, counselors and welfare workers “were doing garden consultations” to provide support to families.
Mr. Huddleston told PA: âWe could provide clothes because we could buy basic products, toiletries, shampoos, deodorants and sanitary products.
âWe provided all of this to our families because we could go and buy them and put them in the packages that we delivered.
âWe had boxes at school for those who could come and pick them up and we had the school minibus running and leaving at the doorstep for those who could not come and pick them up.
“It was a bit of a military operation in all fairness.”
He added, âIt wasn’t just the families of the premium students who were crying out for help. The funding didn’t really cover it, but it was a survival mentality for the schools. You just had to provide.
“I think potentially a lot of schools are still struggling because of this.”
Mr Huddleston, who is now principal of Temple Learning Academy in Leeds, where two-thirds of children are eligible for student bonus funding, said he believed the coronavirus pandemic had “hit families the most to the lowest incomes “.
At school, families in need are provided with uniforms and staff clean student uniforms on site if parents do not have their own sanitation facilities.
He told PA, âWe have wardrobe after wardrobe of uniforms that we provide for kids.
“We have a washing machine and a dryer and we wash them for them.”
Mr. Huddleston added, âThere are always a lot of low income families we serve here. I think it will stay. “
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