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 A Hardship Fund which will support students facing financial difficulties has been launched across 25 academies by the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust.

A Hardship Fund which will support students facing financial difficulties has been launched across 25 academies by the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust.

The fund is a source of financial help available to all registered full-time students at 20 Trust primary and 5 secondary schools in Derbyshire and the surrounding counties. 
It will help students who are experiencing difficulties through hardship in paying for: curriculum trips, visits, and residential courses; uniform, shoes, or sports kit; other materials or equipment required for academic studies; attendance at seminars, interviews, or work experience placements and emergency travel expenses.
There is also the opportunity for qualifying students to be able to access one free school meal each day during recognised academy holidays through the fund.
Sean McClafferty, chief executive of the St Ralph Sherwin CMAT, said he was pleased that the Trust was able to support those students most in need.

He said: “The Trust acknowledges the difficulties faced by many of the families we serve, particularly with the effects of Coronavirus on the community. 

“As a Trust our focus this year is on serving our local communities and we feel that this Hardship Fund is the right way to do this, providing direct financial assistance to those who need it the most.

“All of our students should have the same access to important aspects of their education and their financial situation should not be a barrier to that.”

Any student or family who would like to apply for assistance from the fund needs to satisfy certain criteria and make an application to their headteacher. There are over 7,800 students across the Trust.

Kevin Gritton, headteacher at Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy in Derby, said: “This is great news for those students who might otherwise struggle financially to access important elements of their education. We are delighted that the Trust has decided to launch this fund and we hope that it will be a welcome boost for those in need.”

Tim Brogan, headteacher at Holy Rosary Catholic Voluntary Academy, in Burton, said: “The Hardship Fund is going to be a great source of support and reassurance to some of our families who are most in need. I have already received an application from a parent who was not paid by their employer due to their child having to isolate as a result of the class bubble closing. I think initiatives like this are what makes the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust stand out from others.

“In times like these, it is essential that we are doing what we can within our power to support the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Paul Ackers, headteacher at Saint Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy in Glossop, said: “This is a fantastic initiative by the Trust and has been and continues to be such a welcome support for families. We have actively promoted the fund within our school community and have encouraged parents to access it. We are acutely aware of the many challenges that families face at this present time and knowing that there is support out there provides a reassurance and an additional avenue of care and assistance. “

Grainne Beaumont, headteacher at All Saints and St Margaret’s Catholic Voluntary Academies in Glossop, said: “More and more families are finding themselves in difficult circumstances. The Trust has enabled families to ask for direct help within a community they know and feel safe in. The CMAT schools are a strong community and this is another example of how we care for each other.”

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