A young mum from Denton is grateful to receive free Healthy Start Vouchers to buy nutritious food and milk for her baby thanks to Tameside Council.
Katherine, 22 and mum of a 23-month-old baby boy completed the Healthy Start application form inside a leaflet she picked up from her local Children’s Centre.
She said: “It was very easy to complete the application form and it didn’t take long to get the first lot of vouchers. I have been using the vouchers since my son was a month old. Over the last 23 months I have saved just under £500 on fruit, vegetables and milk by accessing the Healthy Start Voucher Scheme.”
The scheme can give eligible families £6.20 per week (two lots of vouchers worth £3.10 each per week) in the first year of a child’s life. When a child is between one and four years old families can receive one voucher worth £3.10 each week.
On a typical week, Katherine would put the vouchers initially towards buying formula milk, then as her son got older she’d buy fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and full fat milk.
She added: “Most major supermarkets such as Morrisons, Asda, Lidl and Tesco accept the vouchers as long as they’re spent on the correct items and to the value of the items you’re buying. If the items come to more than what you have in vouchers, you can just pay the difference.
“I’d encourage those who are eligible to apply, and make use of the voucher scheme. The application form is easy to complete, but if you do struggle to complete the forms there are lots of professionals who can support, such as staff at local Children’s Centres. The vouchers are sent by post regularly and you also get vouchers for multi-vitamins.
“Being a single parent on a low income, it helps to ensure my son gets a range of fresh fruit and vegetables each week, helping me to give him his 5 a day. You can use more than one voucher at a time, so it allows me to give him a varied diet as some weeks we may need more fruit, veg or milk than other weeks”.
People in Tameside qualify for Healthy Start Vouchers if they’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and they and their family get either Income support; Income-based Jobseekers Allowance; Income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Child Tax Credit (with a family income of £16,190 or less per year) or Universal Credit (with a family take home pay of £408 or less per month).
Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Population Health, Councillor Eleanor Wills, said: “There will be many families in Tameside who have been hit hard financially due the pandemic, some may now qualify to receive these vouchers to feed their young family. The vouchers are worth up to £6.20 a week per child for children under one year old and then worth £3.10 per child from their first birthday until they reach the age of four.
“Eligible families can save just under £1,000 per child, for the first four years of their child’s life by accessing the Healthy Start vouchers. This is a massive saving and could really help many Tameside families access nutritious food in their food shop.
“I would encourage everyone to at least take a look at the offer of Healthy Start vouchers and to apply if they feel they meet the eligibility criteria. The application process is very easy and the vouchers will be posted to you so you can start to use them straight away at many local shops.”
To find out more about the scheme visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/healthystart