Joanne and Marcie’s story

Marcie is one of over a million children that receive free school meals during term-time. For her mum Joanne, it was a local church that provided the answer to her greatest fear: ‘how will I feed my daughter?’

“I used to be petrified of the school holidays. The six-week break made me so worried. I’m on a very low income because I’m a full-time carer for Marcie, my daughter. People say you get a lot of money being a carer. You don’t - you get enough to just about keep your head above water, but that’s it. So when the summer holiday came I’d be afraid of how I was going to feed Marcie.

Things had got so bad that Marcie’s school had put things in place for us over the school holidays. One of the things we were told about was the Make Lunch club at the Baptist church in town. We went for the first time and it turned out to be a lifesaver for us – a complete godsend.

Marcie loves it. She gets excited when I tell her it’s lunch club. She’ll be jumping up and down and dressed by half 6, eager to get going! She loves it just as much as I do. What I really love is that, as well as a meal, it gives Marcie a safe environment to play in. It’s not safe to play out where we are. But the Make Lunch club gives Marcie the space to just be a child. That’s what everyone wants for their kids isn’t it? She’s made some great friends there and I think it’s really helped her to grow in confidence around new people. Nowadays, she’ll go right up to another child and that’s because she knows she’s somewhere safe.

For me, it means I can sit down, have a brew and catch up with people from the church who run the club. It’s a break for me and for my daughter because she’s literally clung to my side 24/7. So having the club means I can pause and breathe for a minute. I cannot explain how much it’s helped me. It’s brilliant. I love it. I can’t say that enough! 

I wasn’t going to church at all before but Make Lunch has made me think differently about what church can be. I’m not used to seeing churches that run fun activities. I’ve always thought of them as being straight laced. But coming to the Make Lunch club has made Marcie and I feel like we belong to a community. We’re part of an extended family, which makes such a difference for someone like me who’s predominantly on their own.

When I first started coming to church, it was a very small congregation. But now, it’s bigger every time we go. There’s more people attending the lunch club too and it’s all through word of mouth. The way I see it, the more people that go to church the more the church will expand and if the church expands the more it can put back into the community.

When it comes to the future for me and Marcie, I just hope we’ll be happy, that we belong somewhere and that we’re part of something big. Let’s see what happens. Tomorrow is a new day!”

Things had got so bad that my daughter's school had put things in place for us over the school holidays. One of the things we were told about was the Make Lunch club at the Baptist church in town. Make Lunch has turned out to be a lifesaver for us – a complete godsend.