Focus: Corporate Responsibility - BITC launches Nottingham Breakfast Club for kids

Anita Pati, anita.pati@haynet.com

Big business joins with sections of the community for a scheme that provides breakfasts to schoolchildren.

Business in the Community has launched its first Breakfast Club in a bid to put toast, jam and cereal into the mouths of hungry schoolchildren.

The Nottingham initiative is set to become one of the biggest projects of its kind in the UK.

It is overseen by Nottinghamshire-based charity Cares for Kids, which was set up specifically for the purpose and is supported by BITC. Cares for Kids has also used BITC's resources to enlist employee volunteer support through its Nottinghamshire Cares scheme.

Nottingham City Council and local businesses have also aligned themselves with the scheme in a combined bid to address the city's problem of child poverty and deprivation.

Nottingham is the seventh most deprived local authority area in the UK, suffers the highest level of recorded crime in the country and has one of the lowest educational achievement rates.

By next July, 3,000 children across the city's 100 primary schools will be offered access to the Breakfast Club scheme, although the schools retain hands-on management of the project. Five primary schools have already joined the pilot, which was launched last September.

The aim is for children who might otherwise skip breakfast to get a nutritious meal that will help them concentrate and encourage social interaction with peers and volunteers.

Clubs will run between 8am and 9am and will provide bread, milk, jam, cereal and juices.

Jackie Fuller, project manager for the Cares for Kids' Breakfast Club, said: "This is unique at the moment, but we hope it will spread around the country." She said activities at the schemes varied from learning life skills - such as how to use a knife and fork - to more lively pursuits such as painting and drawing.

Experian and Capital One are the founding funders of Cares for Kids.

The charity has raised £77,000 from companies including Ikea, which supplied the plates, Dixons, which gave toasters, and Bokomo, which donated cereal.

Cares for Kids is looking for a further £175,000 from Nottingham's businesses so it can expand the project to more schools. As well as approaching benefactors and foundations, it is encouraging firms to support their employees in offering payroll giving, making donations and volunteering their time. A £5 employee donation through payroll giving would fund five children through the Breakfast Club for a week.

Fuller has trained 20 employee volunteers but would eventually like to see the whole of Nottingham engaged.

"We're hoping that we can create that community spirit by getting the parents and grandparents involved as well," she said.

KEY POINTS

- Business in the Community has launched its first Breakfast Club, in Nottingham, overseen by BITC charity Cares for Kids and BITC Nottinghamshire Cares

- The scheme will offer 3,000 children a healthy breakfast of bread, milk, cereal and juice to aid concentration and encourage peer interaction

- Local businesses are supporting the Breakfast Club through donations, payroll giving and volunteering

- Companies involved include Experian, Capital One, Dixons, Ikea and Bokomo

- Nottingham is the seventh most deprived local authority area in the UK.

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