09th December 2022

Community hub at South Wales school providing resources and support for local families

A community hub at Lliswerry Primary School in Newport, South Wales, is providing a safe, accessible space for families to go for essential supplies.

The hub has been funded and created by a collaboration between housing associations Linc Cymru (Linc) and Newport City Homes, and the school leadership team, with support and guidance from the Children in Wales Price of Pupil Poverty Project. Operating since Christmas 2021, the Lliswerry School Hub gives the local community a place to exchange outgrown school uniform and access food, completely free. 

Standing up against price rises 

The idea for the hub began when Linc’s poverty impact briefing showed the unprecedented price rises in recent years were putting tenants under increasing pressures. 

Ready to take action, Linc partnered with Children in Wales, whose research and work with schools to address financial barriers to school engagement and cost of learning for pupils, aimed to consider five key areas including food and hunger, school uniform, participation in school life, and the home-school relationship. 

Lliswerry Primary School were keen to be involved in the pilot model to reduce pupil poverty after the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the difficulties many of their families were experiencing at home. 

Lliswerry Primary School offered three rooms, which Linc and contractor LCB renovated, with the hub launching services to the community at Christmas 2021. 

Swap Shop 

The new hub provides parents with a place to donate outgrown school uniforms and swap them for the next size up. The room includes an industrial washing machine and iron, so the clothes look their best for their proud new owners to wear to school. 

Food Pantry 

The Lliswerry School hub works with food redistribution charity Fare Share to provide families with a variety of delicious, healthy food whenever they need it, cutting down on local food waste from nearby suppliers. 

Space to meet 

The hub provides a meeting room where locals can have appointments with housing officers, council representatives, or other supporting teams to discuss housing, DAF (Discretionary Assistance Fund) applications, or anything else they need. It creates a low-pressure location where sensitive conversations can take place in private. 

Entering the hub 

The area around the hub has been redeveloped, with local artist created a mural to make the space feel updated, colourful and welcoming. A separate entrance from the main school gates enables locals to visit the hub without feeling stigma or embarrassment.  

The future of the Lliswerry Primary School hub 

Since the cost of living has escalated in recent months, the Lliswerry school hub is helping housing providers like Linc and Newport City Homes to do more to support their tenants and tackle the cycle of poverty that can affect pupil attendance and learning at school. 

As Christmas approaches the hub is experiencing high demand, and the school’s support worker is having honest conversations with families to chat about the support they need, breaking down the stigma parents face and helping more families to engage with the hub. 

Festive treats have been given to families via the hub, including advent calendars and Christmas chocolates and biscuits, as well as two Christmas trees that were given new homes.   

The Lliswerry hub hopes to develop its offering to include cooking classes to inspire parents and children to make the shift towards low-cost meals that are truly delicious and nutritious. They would like to find local volunteers to visit wholesalers, so the community can benefit from high-volume prices. 

Lliswerry School Deputy Headteacher Liz Wells says, "repurposing an unused part of the school to create a supportive hub has been an exciting step for everyone involved. We've loved working with Linc Cymru, Newport City Homes and Children in Wales to create a positive space for our families and the wider community. We are proud to be trailblazers in a pilot scheme that will be rolled out to other schools in Wales. We're looking forward to working with our pupils and their families to find out what other resources they'd like to see at the hub in future." 

Find out more about the community hub at Lliswerry Primary School in this video: Linc Cymru - supporting local communities - YouTube

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