The last few months have been especially hard for local families that were already struggling to make ends meet.

Buckinghamshire Council launched its ‘Helping Hand’ programme over the October half term. This was to make sure any family finding it hard to put food on the table during the school holidays could be supported.

Buckinghamshire Council is extending the ‘Helping Hand’ programme across the whole of winter.

With funding from the government’s Winter Grant and working with our partners, they will ensure that vulnerable children in Buckinghamshire will be warm and fed this winter. The Helping Hand programme includes issuing food vouchers to all children who have free school meals. So they can be fed through the school holidays. Any family that is struggling will be able to call a dedicated Helping Hand advice line if they need extra support. The website and helping hands team will offer support and advice. Our 16 Community Boards will also be working with partners to support local activities.

And can you help us give vulnerable local children a better Christmas?

As you may know, each year Buckinghamshire Council run an annual Christmas present appeal for children in Bucks who might otherwise not get much, or anything at all, at Christmas. This year’s campaign run by Buckinghamshire Councillors Paul Irwin, Mark Shaw and Ashley Waite – is underway and like everything else, they’re having to do things a bit differently this year due to the pandemic. For the first time, they’ve started a JustGiving fund to get presents bought and delivered direct. And for people who would prefer to choose a gift themselves for a child in need, we can provide details of where to send it, or where you can drop it off.

Your generosity in previous years has made a huge difference to Christmas for some of our most disadvantaged children. This year has been tremendously hard on us all. but if you are in a position to donate a present, it would be hugely appreciated. All the detail you need is here on our website.

Bucks Business Grants

Through Bucks Business Grants, the council have got two support grant schemes open at the moment. The Local Restrictions Support Grant is for businesses that have had to close because of the restrictions. This is linked to rateable value and offers financial support for businesses that are closed due to the restrictions.

If your business doesn’t qualify for the Local Restrictions Support Grant but has still suffered significant losses as a result of the latest restrictions, you might be eligible for the Additional Restrictions Grant. This grant is for any business, including the self-employed. It’s not linked to rateable value and you don’t have to have premises.

More tips for staying well this winter

Supporting the frontline health services, including A&E and GPs, allows them to continue to run smoothly now and when the COVID-19 vaccinations begin. Please remember to ‘know where to go for help’ if you feel unwell or need medical attention. Visit our Ready for Winter pages and do your bit to help protect NHS services this winter.

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