Inspirational stand-up comedian Shonette Bason-Wood is on a one-woman mission to tackle the crisis that is ‘holiday hunger’ – by giving up her summer season to hand out free food hampers to families in the North East.
The 46-year-old, from Wynyard, has so far donated over 200 hampers to families in need, and is hoping to expand the campaign across the UK to help change the lives of those who find themselves unable to feed their children during the holidays.
Across the six-week school break, families who would normally receive free school meals and attend breakfast club, can struggle with the extra cost of feeding their children in the summer season – leading to the reality dubbed ‘holiday hunger’. Some parents even go without food themselves, to make sure their children eat.
To help combat the issue, Shonette and the team from her educational training company, Spread the Happiness, has raised over £18,000 to put together crucial hampers packed with three-weeks’ worth of food, drink and everyday essentials.
With help from her friends and family, she has travelled the length and breadth of the region to primary schools in highly deprived areas; delivering packages filled with items such as tins of food, toothpaste and toilet roll.
At a time when most are jetting off for a week by the beach, many other families can feel the struggle of their child not being in full-time education and at home during the day. This can mean bigger bills for food and daily essentials.
Shonette, an ex-school teacher kickstarted her campaign two years ago after seeing the crisis first-hand. She is now expanding the model across the UK and recently visited South Wales to distribute 150 hampers to two primary schools.
Shonette said: “People don’t realise how big an issue holiday hunger is in this country – some parents will live off toast for weeks on end to be able to give their children proper food. It’s a terrible thing and we need to do as much as we can to support them.
“One mother I met at a school broke down after receiving her free hamper as she was so overwhelmed after being so worried about how she would feed her children over the summer holidays.”