NORTH EAST entrepreneur Jamie Eastlake has been trying to ensure children in his area haven’t gone hungry this half-term.
The Northumberland business owner joined the national campaign to feed children from poverty-stricken families.
He did so after it failed to persuade Conservative MPs to provide free school meals during the half-term holidays this week.
Their decision may have saved the nation an estimated £20million, but it provoked anger and fuelled the campaign led by Premier League star Marcus Rashford.
“I knew there was a problem and areas around me are poverty-stricken, but it really is an eye-opener how desperate some people are.”
Many North East businesses, such as Mr Eastlake’s Laurence’s Tapas bar in Blyth, Northumberland, have made it their mission to make sure young children didn’t go hungry during the holidays.
But why did he feel the need to tackle the problem?
Mr Eastlake said: “I was angry and upset with the decision of Parliament, and questioned why they weren’t helping, but then I thought ‘If they can’t, then why couldn’t I do something?’
“I set up a campaign called ‘Viva Le Revolution’ to help kids, as I was just so disgusted. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and poverty is increasing more than ever, people are literally on their knees.”
As of today, Laurence’s has provided 184 hot meals over the course of the week, however these meals aren’t made for free.
“The finances never crossed my mind and I never thought about it being a risk, as that wasn’t important,” said Mr Eastlake. “What is important is that we’ve helped people in our local community – that outweighs any financial loss.
“We’ve had several different businesses donate items such as meat, fish and fruit, which have been used in the meals this week. We’ve also had local people donating sums of money, as well as a number of people helping us deliver the meals to kids.
“Our community has come together in a time of need.”
With only one day left of the school holidays, Mr Eastlake and his team have given children across his community some nutritious meals … but it really has opened his eyes.
He said: “I knew there was a problem and areas around me are poverty-stricken, but it really is an eye-opener how desperate some people are.
“I came from a family who just about got by, but these people literally have nothing. Seeing a little window of what their life is like this week has been sad and terrifying. There has to be more done.”