Looking after, educating and entertaining children at home is one of the big challenges of Covid-19. Many of us know first-hand how tricky this can be, but imagine you cannot afford even to buy basic paper and pens for your children to use? Sadly, this is the case for lots of vulnerable families in Cornwall and Plymouth who are struggling to pay bills and buy food, with nothing left for anything else.

Following some great work that Matt Little has been supporting by Room 13 in Bristol, we are doing something about it. The first wave of Real Ideas Let’s Create packs have been sent to the families of over 500 primary-aged children in Gloucester, Hartcliffe in Bristol, Plymouth, and north and east Cornwall. We have worked in partnership with a range of organisations that are at the heart of their communities to get the packs to those who will benefit most, whether that be Room 13 in Bristol; Plymouth’s Education, Participation and Skills team, city-wide schools catering provider CATERed and arts project NPO Take A Part; Cornwall’s Together for Families team; or, in Gloucester, Create Gloucestershire, Culture Matson and The Venture: White City. We couldn’t have done what we have without the Bristol and Plymouth Scrapstores who have risen to the challenge of sourcing and prepping the packs at short notice, all of which have been sent with a message from our From Lockdown With Love campaign.

‘We may be all in the same storm at the moment, but not in the same boat. Children and young people have lost so much, but in the places we work large numbers of them are on free school meals, with no access to the internet, many live in flats with no gardens, and have no paper or basic art and craft materials at all. Given all that is happening, art, creativity and the opportunity to express yourself becomes more important than ever. That is why we have been working as hard as we can with a range of brilliant and committed partners to get Let’s Create packs to as many children and young people in need as we can.’ – Matt Little, Real Ideas Co-founder and Head of Impact and Research

The packs contain basic supplies such as paper, pens, scissors, glue– all the things most of us take for granted we can provide for our children. For those that can’t it is a challenge at the best of times, but now, it is a major issue, further disadvantaging those who are already struggling.

The Arts Council have been crucial in shaping the initiative quickly, supporting Real Ideas and other Bridge Organisations, and local businesses are also getting involved. St Austell Print have been brilliant and donated a pallet of A2 paper. The first 200 packs were distributed last Monday, the second 200 will be distributed early next week and a third wave is planned for a week after that. Such is the positive impact that we are keen to continue the initiative and would welcome more support from local businesses to ensure reaches even more children and families in need.