BUSINESSES up and down Tynedale have stepped up to provide meals for hungry children during the half term holiday.

Last week, the Government voted down a Labour motion to provide food vouchers for children in receipt of school meals during school holidays by 322 votes to 261.

According to the latest figures, 1.5 million people in the UK were out of work in June - August - a rise of 0.4 per cent on previous three months.

In addition, many families are feeling the effects of coronavirus restrictions on their pockets, with pay decreased by furlough and other COVID-19 restrictions.

As a result there has been a growing campaign, spearheaded by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford, for the Government to provide extra financial support for struggling families.

After the motion was voted down, dozens of businesses pledged to support children during the holidays.

In Hexham, sandwich shop Top Nosh has raised more than £3,500 to feed children during half term through a Just Giving page.

Owner Karen Robinson also decided to provide a free packed lunch to any child who needed it, including a sandwich, drink, fruit, and crisps.

She was shocked by the levels of child poverty in Hexham.

Karen said: "I've spent every day since Friday crying. A lot of these people, their circumstances have changed because of the pandemic.

"It could happen to me and my husband tomorrow. Nobody knows what's round the corner.

"I've had my eyes opened to the level of child poverty in Hexham, which I didn't realise there was.

"It's been absolutely crazy thus week. We've had lots of packed lunches going out, which volunteers have delivered for me.

"I've been so surprised at the support from people in Hexham. It makes me really proud to be from Hexham.

"People who aren't even regular customers have been asking if they can help, it's lovely - but this isn't going to end when half term ends."

In addition, Hexham-based charity Adapt North East has also pledged to support youngsters during half term.

In Prudhoe, the Miner's Lamp Community Hub and Cafe continued its work from the summer holidays to provide food for schoolchildren.

They were joined by The Corner Cafe on Front Street.

Elsewhere, the Allendale Inn also chipped in to help, offering a free kid's meal with any adult meal purchased.

The pub also said it would help to support those who couldn't afford an adult's meal.

Landlady Vanessa Crossley said: "I'm doing this because of the Government.

"I grew up as a non-privileged child, but at the moment we're in a worse situation then when I was at school.

"Parents aren't able to work as much and everyone is relying on benefits.

"I've got a kitchen here, if I can help I'm not going to let people go hungry. The offer is there if people need it."

A list of businesses providing support can be found on the Courant's website. Donations can be made to Top Nosh's campaign at