A heroic lettings agency in the south west of England has stepped up to the plate this half-term week by offering vouchers to tenants’ families in need.
The East of Exe and West of Exe agencies - led by Ian Garcia and Chris Taylor - handle lettings and sales across Exeter and East Devon, and has offices in the coastal town of Topsham, at nearby Axminster and in central Exeter.
Now in the wake of the Marcus Rashford school meals controversy, it’s written to its tenants offering a helping hand. The letter says:
“During these difficult times we are aware that some of our tenants are going through challenging financial situations.
“With the recent publicity regarding Free School Meals during the half term break, here in our lettings team we thought we should look to offer any of our tenants' families help with the extra expenses of feeding their children this week.
“So if you normally receive free school meals, and would appreciate some support this week, please get in contact with xxx and we’ll send you £5 per day Tesco voucher per eligible child for the week of half term.
“We appreciate this is only a small gesture but hope it helps
“The Letting Team at East and West of Exe”
Footballer Rashford's campaign has built pressure on the government to provide funding directly to families during the half term week, or to adequately fund other agencies to do the job.
The Westminster government has ruled out extending free meals nationwide in England beyond term time - as the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have done - saying it has given councils £63m for families facing financial difficulties due to pandemic restrictions, as well as increasing welfare support by £9.3 billion.
Government resistance to specifically funding the provision of free meals has led to businesses across the country - including pubs, restaurants, cafes and others - giving free food to eligible children.