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Thinking inside box! Adventure playground helps hungry lockdown kids

Holloway project has been delivering meals to families

10 July, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Xanthe, Robert and Phoebe with their special gifts

FAMILIES have praised the lifesaving work of an adventure playground which transformed itself into a foodbank during the coronavirus lockdown.

Hayward Adventure Playground, in Market Road, Holloway, has provided a safe place for scores of children with learning difficulties to play for years, but when the lockdown was introduced the staff began delivering meals to its families.

One mother has praised the service after she was unable to leave her home for a month as she and her son and daughter, both on the autistic spectrum, suffered Covid-19 symptoms.

Amelia, Alfie and Ben with their food parcels

Zoe, who did not want to give her surname, said: “There have been points during the lockdown where we weren’t able to go out to get food for the family at all, it was over a period of almost a month that we were all gradually becoming symptomatic.

“The fresh food delivered by Hayward, from the Felix Project, was incredibly helpful.”

She added: “Financially, the last three months have been some of the toughest we have ever had as a family.

“There are six of us in the family and having children with disabilities has had a big effect on us as a family for a long time. The support from Hayward and the Felix Project has been exactly the help we needed.”

Foodbanks around Islington and across the country have reported a surge in demand during the pandemic.

Hayward deputy manager Kate Ferguson and playworker/driver George Bass

The number of families being fed by the Ringcross Centre, near Caledonian Road, has soared from around 75 before the lockdown to 250, according to Savvas Pannas who helps run the foodbank.

The Trussell Trust recorded an 81 per cent increase in demand, including a 122 per cent rise in parcels given to children.

Caroline, and her children Alfie, Ben and Amelia, received food and “play parcels”, donated by charity London Play on Friday.

She said: “Hayward have delivered parcels of food and drinks every week to families in need of additional help, always turning up with a smile on their faces and greeting the children as they always would.”

Kate Ferguson, Hayward’s deputy manager, said: “We have only been able to support very small groups of vulnerable children throughout lockdown due to Government restrictions.

“However there are so many children – we have around 100 – who would have regularly attended the playground and have been at home throughout lockdown, without play resources and their usual opportunity to play freely outdoors.”

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