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Richmond Park News: 27 October 2020


I am dismayed at the Government's continuing refusal to extend the free school meals scheme over the half term holidays, despite pressure from all sides. Happily, Richmond and Kingston Councils are both taking a more compassionate view and stepping in to provide food vouchers to families eligible for free school meals. Children's services in both boroughs are provided by the same organisation, Achieving for Children. Achieving for Children has put a scheme in place to provide supermarket vouchers to families who are unable to provide children with meals during the school holidays.

Referrals can be made by schools, social workers, family support workers or either Council’s Covid-19 support hub.  Eligible families will receive supermarket vouchers of £15 per week per eligible child (for the school holiday period) by email. More information can be found here:

If you feel you need help, please contact the hub for your borough:

Kingston Stronger Together Hub Fill in this support form and the hub will contact you. Or phone 020 8547 5000

Richmond Community Hub Email Or phone 020 8871 6555

I have also been inspired by the mobilisation of community groups and businesses both here and across the country to ensure children facing poverty do not go hungry during the school holidays. I know that Richmond Rugby Club, for example, has been reaching out to local schools this week to offer meals to those who need them, with assistance from Carluccio's restaurants. Kingston’s community groups and businesses are also providing meals and groceries to local families. I would like to say thank you to all of the people involved in those efforts, on behalf of all my constituents. It is heartening indeed to live in an area with such lively community spirit.


I think we are all aware that Halloween is going to look different this year for our children. Most people will be rightly concerned about sharing the virus through the surfaces of sweet wrappers and doorbells, and through face-to-face contact at the door. Richmond Council is specifically asking parents not to let their children go door to door trick-or-treating. Kingston Council is reminding parents that we must not meet other households indoors or in groups of more than six outdoors. Given the rise in cases in London I expect many older people who would normally welcome little skeletons and witches to their doorsteps will not feel comfortable opening their doors to them this year.

I have heard lots of good suggestions this week for alternative activities, like setting up a Halloween treasure hunt within your own household, doing a Halloween quiz online or watching a ghostly movie together. You can see some great film suggestions here:

The Neighbourhood Pumpkin Trail is another great idea for this year, encouraging children to go out and spot decorated houses without knocking on the doors. Parents could take a bag of little treats with them and give one to their child when they spot a decorated house.

Richmond Council is organising a pumpkin carving and colouring competition. To share your colouring creations, household decorations or pumpkin carvings and to enter our prize draw, share your pictures online and tag @LBRUT on Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #RichmondScares.

To help protect residents who wish not to be disturbed on Halloween night, Richmond Council has produced a printable sign that residents can hang on front doors or in windows to indicate that they are not taking part in this year’s celebrations and do not wish to have their doorbells rung.