COUNCILLORS have praised a summer programme aimed at alleviating hunger and boredom during the school holidays.

West Dunbartonshire Council committed £100,000 to support a special programme events, in partnership with community groups, throughout this year’s summer holidays.

In total, 8,379 children attended the 28 different programmes across the area, along with 843 adults.

Senior education officer Claire Cusick, who made a presentation to the education committee last week, said the remaining £30,000 of the funding will be used to fund a similar programme during the October holiday.

She said: “We were allocated £100,000 to build on and expand our work in ensuring that we work to alleviate holiday hunger and boredom.

“We worked with a range of partners to ensure that we had a range of things on offer during the period.

“We wanted to ensure that, in all geographical areas, children and families were able to access a range of opportunities that suited their needs and interests.

“We worked with the foodbank, providing brunch bags to children and their parents.

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“It was noticed that families were using the foodbank more than they normally would most summers, but they believed that to be a good thing, because kids who needed it were being fed.”

On the leftover funding, Ms Cusick said: “We have got around £30,000 leftover, which we’re very pleased with, and we’ve already engaged with our partners during this programme, to see if they would do the same in October and looking ahead to Christmas to use this allocation up.”

The programme was much loved by users, Ms Cusick said.

“What was fantastic was the feedback we got on the programme. We asked people ‘would you come back and do this again’ and so many of the answers were ‘yes, and then some,’” the council officer told the meeting.

Depute Provost Karen Conaghan, the chair of the education committee, said: “It’s good to see that exactly what we wanted the money to do is being done.

“It’s fantastic to see how well it’s been received.

“So much of it is not just about food, it’s about family and community.”

Council leader Jonathan McColl said: “This is hugely positive. I could not be more pleased. I couldn’t have asked for this to be implemented by officers in a better way so thank you very much for that.

“This cannot have been an easy thing to implement, and I’m sure that sometimes it was a bit like trying to herd cats, but you’ve managed to bring partners together.

“I was happy to see the evaluations. I’m pleased that it calls for more joined up working, because that’s what we were looking for as a council - to get more of our third sector partners involved in this sort of thing.”

Labour’s group leader, Martin Rooney, joined the chorus of praise for the initiative, pointing out one project in particular.

He said: “I’m really pleased with this report, and I think this gives us a really solid base.

“I noticed that Haldane Youth Services did their work with just £500.

“That’s the equivalent of 71p per person, which is fantastic.”

It is not yet known what the October or Christmas programmes will involve.