Free School Meals - Disability Inclusion

by Natalie Hay

Free School Meals - Disability Inclusion

by Natalie Hay
Natalie Hay
Case Owner
I am crowdfunding on behalf of all the parent carers in the UK finding that they are unable to access their child’s free school meal entitlement due being too disabled to attend school.
19
days to go
£8,332
pledged of £10,000 stretch target from 194 pledges
Pledge now
Natalie Hay
Case Owner
I am crowdfunding on behalf of all the parent carers in the UK finding that they are unable to access their child’s free school meal entitlement due being too disabled to attend school.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Who am I?

Hi, my name is Natalie and I am wanting to challenge the decision of my local authority for refusing to provide Free School Meal (FSM) vouchers to disabled children during holidays because they are unable to attend school (EHCP/EOTAS), and also their decision to refuse to make a reasonable adjustment to enable my disabled child to receive a Free School Meal alternative, during term time.

Why this case is so important?

We urgently need all Local authorities and all schools in the UK to have a clear Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) policy in place. This would ensure that disabled children are not excluded from receiving Free School Meals and are not substantially disadvantaged. 

During the pandemic lockdowns, supermarket vouchers were sent to parents which proves that there is a solution to this problem. However, when the majority of children went back to school, a minority of disabled children (continuing to learn from home) saw their FSM supermarket vouchers stop. It is not clear why this happened or why this scheme was not extended to benefit children with disabilities. It is also not clear why many councils send out supermarket vouchers during school holidays, but choose to exclude children with disabilities. Ironically, many families find themselves in a position where the more vulnerable child gets the least Free School Meal support.

Who will this case help?

I set up an online parent carer group. The group now has 1.5k parent carer members seeking FSM inclusion for their child with disabilities. Some of these parents have two children (with a disability) and are on universal credit and others are so busy visiting hospitals (e.g. for oncology and heart surgery) that they do not have the time and energy to seek help from lawyers to tackle this inequality. 

Many children cannot eat canteen food (due to medical needs) and others are forced to learn from home (due to special educational or medical needs); they receive no FSM help. This happens despite laws in place that are meant to protect disabled people from discrimination. Schools and local authorities are meant to fulfil their duty by making reasonable adjustments to local public services, according to the Human Rights Law (Equality Act 2010).

Winning this case would, I hope, enable other families of children with disabilities to ensure that Free School Meals are provided to them too. Families could refer to this case if local authorities continue to refuse to help.

Why I'm raising funds

I need to raise 5k so that a legal team can review the issue and advise on the merits of commencing court proceedings. Please help me. 

Thank you. 

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