Coronavirus daily update: Wednesday 29 July

Extending eligibility for free school meals and the summer food programme is key to tackling worsening food poverty caused by Covid-19, experts have told the government.

A new report recommends more children are given healthy free school meals. Picture: Adobe Stock
A new report recommends more children are given healthy free school meals. Picture: Adobe Stock
  • Each day, CYP Now will summarise the key issues affecting the children and families sector as it tackles the effects of the pandemic. The daily update signposts children’s services practitioners and leaders to the latest developments, expert views, advice and resources.

Calls for free school meal extension

Up to 1.5 million more children should be given access to free school meals in a bid to tackle growing food poverty in the wake of Covid-19, a major new report recommends.

A new National Food Strategy, commissioned by the government, author Henry Dimbleby calls for all children with one parent on Universal Credit to receive free school meals.

Other recommendations include extending the summer food programme and the “healthy start” voucher for pregnant women.

Judicial review over SI445 ends

A High Court judge has arguments for and against controversial emergency changes to children’s social care legislation in a judicial review launched by children’s rights charity Article 39 against the Education Secretary.

Mrs Justice Lieven listened to arguments from the charity, which is calling for the changes to be scrapped, over an alleged lack of government consultation and claims Gavin Williamson failed to consider the wellbeing of vulnerable children.

The judge said she would deliver her result on Friday or early next week.

Local lockdown 

The local lockdown has further impacted the mental health of vulnerable young people concerned about social isolation and uncertainty of guidance and the future.

A snap assessment of the effect that the local lockdown restrictions are having on vulnerable young people in Leicester and affected parts of Leicestershire, has uncovered an even greater impact on young people’s mental health and feelings of isolation, a charity has said.

The assessment conducted by Leicestershire Cares, which support vulnerable children and care leavers, found there is a real sense of young people feeling left behind, isolated and lacking much needed support because of restrictions on travel and socialising.

The charity has made three recommendations to the government which include urgent interventions to ease the impact of local lockdowns on young people’s mental health; clearer guidance for young people and more help for other areas in preparing for local lockdowns.

Join CYP Now’s #Chances4Children campaign

Is your organisation, local authority school or nursery going the extra mile to support children and young people during the pandemic?

The summer holidays present fresh challenges for organisations supporting vulnerable young people and families preparing for yet more change as lockdown restrictions ease.

CYP Now's #Chances4Children campaign is giving practitioners, teams and leaders a platform to share the innovative, collaborative and heroic work that is taking place every day to improve the lives of children, young people and families.

Children have been largely spared the devastating health effects of Covid-19. Yet, the pandemic lockdown has disrupted many aspects of children’s lives, from school closures to rising food poverty. The trauma and isolation it has caused could have damaging effects on their wellbeing and life chances for years to come.

The pandemic is hitting disadvantaged children the hardest, with analysis suggesting the crisis could wipe out a decade of gains in narrowing the attainment gap.

Be part of the @cypnow campaign - share examples of your good practice or celebrate the work of peers on Twitter by tagging #Chances4Children and send your stories to

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