If you're entitled to and signed up for Free School Meals in Gloucestershire, there's something really exciting available to you this Easter holidays, but you must sign up by Friday 19 March.
Not only can you access some fantastic food, but you'll also receive recipe cards for you to cook together as a family, and we all know how precious having something new to do together is at the moment. Check out the fantastic menu below:
Easter Free School Meals Menu
You'll receive easy to follow recipe cards with your ingredients - a great opportunity to cook together and maybe try something new. All recipes are nutritionally balanced but also fun to make!
Making it happen
We're proud to have been working with Gloucestershire County Council - who are also funding this project - and many other fantastic community organisations to bring this together. Don't miss out, if you are signed up for Free School Meals sign up for your kit today (and make sure you do it before Friday 19 March).
You might have noticed that today was World Book Day, and though many children are still at home due to lockdown, with the help of our LOOP team and local reading organisation Read With Me, local children still got to enjoy the day with new free books.
Willy Wonka and Peter Rabbit made special guest appearances, handing out age-matched books on pre-arranged COVID-safe visits to households in Robinswood and Matson in Gloucester.
Mr Wonka said: "There is nothing like a book to open up a world of pure imagination. Living there you'll be free, if you truly wish to be."
His alter-ego Debbie said: "It was wonderful to see the happiness on children's faces. We've been in lockdown for a long time and with shops closed, you could see it was a real joy to have something new to read. We know lots of the families in the area so made sure we picked suitable books for children's ages, the selection we had to choose from was fantastic."
The books were provided by Read With Me, a local organisation who train and support teams of volunteers to go into schools and hear children read. They have also been working tirelessly to get books and craft packs out to families throughout the latest lockdown.
According to Read With Me, there are serious underlying messages about the importance of ensuring children have the opportunity to read regularly:
Read With Me are currently on a recruitment drive for volunteers who are keen and willing to help make a difference by committing to reading with a child in school, ideally twice a week. If you would like to know more, or feel you would like to help in the future, please contact Linda on 07791 110906 or email email@example.com.
When the UK went back into lockdown in January, we knew it was going to be a tough time and wanted to do what we could to encourage people all across Gloucestershire to safely take daily walks to benefit their physical and mental health.
We've been blown away by the entries across all age groups. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust - one of our community partners - kindly and independently judged the competition for us. Entries included landscapes, nature, wildlife and lot of snow, and certainly gave the judges a tough job but we are pleased to announce...
WINNER - over 16's category
Thanks to a generous donation from a local plant company, some of our local schools, community partners and residents have been getting in the mood for spring.
Plants, flowers and being outdoors are all great for our mental wellbeing, so GGT were delighted to be offered the donation of bulbs from Hayloft Plants near Pershore which included tulips, alliums and anemones.
GGT Chief Executive Mark Gale said: "It was such great timing to be offered this donation of bulbs, as we're all looking forward to spring after a very tough winter. I think I must have collected around 5,000 bulbs, which we've been able to share with schools and residents - whether people have their own garden or not, some of the bulbs can be planted indoors to bring a bit of the outside in."
Some of our colleagues from Gloucester Services who are on furlough kindly volunteered their time to help bag some of the bulbs up, in the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Colleague Iveta said: "Getting the bulbs organised helped to break out of four walls and really helped to take my mind off things! Planting some of the tulips in my own garden was a great treat. I am looking forward to the spring to see the sprouts come out the ground and most of all find out what colour tulips I have picked. The surprise bulb planting makes it all the more fun. I hope the packs of tulips brings someone else as much joy as it did for me!"
Local schools including Robinswood Primary Academy also planted some of the bulbs with their Forest School leader, giving some of the children currently in school the exciting opportunity to plant something and watch it grow over the coming weeks. We hope the results will be blooming wonderful!
Here are just a few of our favourite photos and highlights of the year. Photo credits include Thousand Word Media and Fair Shares, and please note, some images were taken pre-pandemic!
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is...
Singing loud for all to hear, and that's exactly what happened in White City on Monday. Our community partner The Venture arranged outdoor socially distanced carol singing, complete with violins, for the residents of local sheltered accommodation. They also packed and delivered hampers to the residents, including hot chocolate generously donated by a Gloucester Services supplier, Kokoa Collection.
Some of our colleagues from Gloucester Services who had been giving their own time to volunteer and help The Venture with hampers and craft packs given out the week before also came along and enjoyed the festivities.
The big man pays a visit
Last week the Matson, Robinswood and White City Partnership, with the help of GL4 CIC, brought Santa on a float to Gloucester neighbourhoods including Matson, Robinswood, White City and Podsmead.
Supported by Gloucester City Homes and Gloucester City Council, the float enabled Santa to wave to his adoring and hopeful fans in an outdoor safe way, bringing some Christmas magic to us all.
Last week GL4 CIC in conjunction with The Venture: White City, Podsmead Big Local and the Podsmead Residents Association launched 'Window Wanderland' across three of our local communities, and doesn't it look amazing!
In a year when many of us have got into walking our local area and events have had to take on a COVID-safe spin, this is a great way for communities to put on their own displays and bring some Christmas cheer to their neighbourhoods.
Taking part is FREE and everyone is welcome. Anything goes… as long as it’s family friendly and you can still join in. You can find more information or download an interactive map here - https://www.windowwanderland.com/event/Gloucester-2020/
Window Wanderland Gloucester is part of Bright Nights, a new programme of light installations for all the family to bring colour, light and play to the city at a traditionally dark time of year. Gloucestershire Gateway Trust are proud to support the work of GL4 CIC.
‘Inspiring 12 days of local Christmas’
This Friday we're excited to launch our ‘12 days of local Christmas campaign’, showcasing 12 small businesses based in Gloucestershire on our website and social media that produce amazing products from award winning jams, pickles and spicy sauces to luxurious organic soaps, cheese hampers and fine patisserie style Christmas desserts. All 12 producers are stocked in the Farmshops at Gloucester Services on the M5.
Our CEO Mark Gale said: “We’ve been committed to supporting local producers at Gloucester Services since we opened, and we know this year has been really tough, so we want to encourage people to think local first this Christmas – as supporting local businesses supports local people, their livelihoods and their families, as well as reinvesting into our local economy.”
Up to 3p in every £1 spent on non-fuels sales at Gloucester Services gets reinvested in local people, projects and communities through Gloucestershire Gateway Trust.
Over 130 local producers based within 30 miles have their products stocked at the Farmshops at Gloucester Services on the M5, which also channels up to 3p in every £1 of non-fuel sales back into local people, projects and communities through Gloucestershire Gateway Trust.
One of the producers to be showcased is family run The Patisserie Box in Cheltenham, who said: "Running our own business is a dream come true. We have spent the last 10 years building it from the ground up with the support from our loyal customers. This year has been a year of change for all of us and is why it more important than ever to support your local businesses. We need to get through this together."
Sarah Churchill of Artisan Kitchen who will also be featured said: "Shopping locally is incredibly important. It enables independent interesting businesses to exist, encourages innovation and supports the local community as a whole."
Recent reports suggest over half a million businesses have been plunged into “significant distress” this year due to the pandemic, with spending plummeting in many areas during lockdown with much of the population staying at home or reducing spending due to loss of income or employment worries. As Christmas approaches spending will increase, and there is a real opportunity to support local people and communities by supporting local businesses, an idea which has been championed by leading business networks and organisations.
David Owen, CEO of GFirst LEP said: “Gloucestershire has always been well recognised and loved for its local produce and now more than ever before we should all be doing our utmost to support our local businesses. Our ‘Think Gloucestershire’ campaign launched in the summer and the ask to Gloucestershire citizens was to think local for holidays/staycation, to support their local shops throughout the year, not forgetting in the run up to Christmas, and for business procurement. GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, is delighted to support GGT’s campaign to support local businesses, people and communities.”
Councillor Kate Haigh, The Right Worshipful Mayor of Gloucester has also shown her support for the campaign: “This Christmas is going to be different but whatever happens we can make a difference to our neighbours by supporting local businesses. In Gloucester we have wonderful local produce, great shops and great service so stay safe and shop local this Christmas.”
For latest opening times at Gloucester Services, please check the Gloucester Services website.
Dawn Barnes, Project Manager from The Venture: White City, who has been one of the driving forces behind the Holiday Kitchen said: "The Holiday Kitchen was set up to encourage our local families to meet up in safe outdoor community spaces to socialise, share a free hot lunch, pick up some resources to help keep children creative and active.”
The Holiday Kitchen in numbers:
The events took place at five local venues every week, with some residents taking the opportunity to walk to each site as they enjoyed the events so much. One parent commented: “We have loved coming to the Holiday Kitchen, it’s given us a reason to get outside and meet up with friends.”
Food poverty isn’t new has increasingly been brought to the attention of the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many Gloucestershire residents facing the reality of going hungry as loss of income and illness proved the final straw for many already living on low incomes.
Mark Gale, CEO of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust who have supported the project said: "The Holiday Kitchen has been an incredible collaboration between our community partners and other local organisations. Residents have really enjoyed themselves, and although it might not have been what we all had planned for this summer, it's definitely something we'd like to repeat. A big thank you to everyone involved, including the team at Generation Events who have really got behind this initiative and given their time to help."
The Holiday Kitchen was a huge collaboration effort with thanks going to:
- GL Communities
- Play Gloucestershire
- GL4 CIC
- The Venture: White City
- The Redwell Centre
- The Club at Tuffley Park CIC
- Podsmead Big Local
- Active Gloucestershire
- Strike a Light
- Gloucester City Council
- Gloucester City Homes
- Matson, Robinswood & White City Community Partnership
- Tuffley Court Community Association
- Gloucestershire Gateway Trust
Dawn Barnes, Project Manager from The Venture: White City, who has been one of the driving forces behind the Holiday Kitchen said: "The Holiday Kitchen was set up to encourage our local families to meet up in safe outdoor community spaces to socialise, share a free hot lunch, pick up some resources to help keep children creative and active and to access any further support they might need. We've seen lots of families each week, many travelling between the various venues to meet up with friends - lots of whom they haven't seen for a long while because of the lockdown restrictions."
The Holiday Kitchen has been providing up to 100 meals a day and over 4,200 meals in total will be served over the holidays from Tommy the tuk tuk, thanks to the very generous support of local organisation Generation Events, who not only supplied Tommy but also team members to cook and serve the food.
Ross Nicholl who runs the Club at Tuffley Park and Generation Events said: "We really wanted to support the Holiday Kitchen not only through The Club @ Tuffley Park CIC but also through our other company Generation Events Gloucestershire because we knew how hard COVID-19 has affected families. Our main aim is to reduce isolation and help tackle food poverty so this fitted right in with what we do. Our team has been a huge part of making this happen and really got into the community spirit whilst doing it."
In addition craft packs have been put together by The Venture: White City with a different theme every week, given away free to residents to take home and make.
Aniche (10) from Matson, who usually likes to sketch superheroes, painted his baby sister and did an incredible job as Russell told the group “babies and children are the hardest to paint!”.
Russell said: “It was fantastic seeing the kids produce such great work and they were really keen to learn. They are much less easily embarrassed than we are as adults and were happy to paint a face green or red! The adults also relaxed by the end of their session and started to enjoy the freedom of painting without worrying what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and just painting what they feel.”
Helen, who took part in the adults masterclass, painted her husband and said: “Russell gave us some great tips on how to capture a likeness, which I've never managed to do before. I went home inspired to try and do some more portraits."
Mark Gale, CEO of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust said: “We’re really grateful to Russell for judging the competition and running the masterclasses and so impressed with the art that was created. I hope it has inspired new generations of artists from our communities, of all ages, and I can’t wait to see the photos on display at Gloucester Services.”
Under 16's category
Over 16's category
Mark Gale, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust said: "Entries have come from all ages and they show how the wonderful things that happen when communities come together can inspire children and adults even in difficult times. We can't wait to get some of the winning art on display in our community gallery at Gloucester Services."
With your support, The Feed Gloucester appeal is halfway there, so a huge thank you to everyone that has supported it. There's still a long way to go to meet the £25,000 target though and important to say:
- Paid out over £6,000 in supermarket vouchers and other support through community partners to families in need
- Supported over 700 families in the last 3 weeks
Who has Feed Gloucester helped?
“Residents who have just come out of hospital.”
“Mothers having to choose between buying food or nappies.”
“Families waiting for Free School Meal vouchers, or not currently ‘eligible’ – unable to provide decent food for their children.”
“People who have never had to ask for help but have found themselves in extremely difficult situations, such as being put out of work or self-employed, and often more than one person per household.”
Feed Gloucester - message from Jo at The Nelson Trust
- Share the appeal with your networks, asking them to donate if they can.
- Ask contacts in local businesses that might be able to make a donation.
- Do a fundraiser - a young supporter recently raised £175 by running two online quizzes.
- Birthday fundraising on sites like Facebook or donations in lieu of thank you gifts for helping out.
- Nominate Feed Gloucester for the Ecclesiastical Movement for Good campaign by 24th May 2020 (Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, charity number 1140440 would be the charity, but if successful all funding would go to Feed Gloucester)
“COVID-19 is having a real impact on vulnerable households. The cuts in social services, coupled with a lack of income and challenges for those who suffer from mental health, has meant that Feed Gloucester is a real lifeline to support people through this difficult time. It’s ensures people are connected and cared for.” Ian Meredith, Roots.
We're overjoyed that Gloucester-born TV Chef Tom Kerridge is showing his support for the Feed Gloucester appeal, launched two weeks ago, helping to get food to people that need it, right now.
The COVID-19 health crisis means low income families across Gloucester who were already finding life tough are now really struggling to put food on the table. Many are now out of work and unable to earn, others have many more mouths to feed at home, with free school meal vouchers not always making it through.
As we hear the current lockdown has been extended, food poverty is expected to increase as it has for many other European countries such as Italy.
At Gloucestershire Gateway Trust we’re proud to be supporting the #FeedGloucester campaign get food to those most in need. The campaign works by allowing people to make donations from the safety of their own homes and organisations, which will then be turned into food vouchers or essential supply packages for those that need it most.
The campaign really needs your help.
Thank you for your support. Together we can make a real impact.
Working in partnership with Gloucester Services means that our community extends to our suppliers, who with their skills, creativity and enterprising spirit makes Gloucester Services such a unique and special place to work.
At times like this, many of our suppliers have used their skills and have turned them into fantastic community assets. Hobbs House Bakery have worked with Gloucester Services since we first opened and supply the amazing selection of artisan bread for our farmshop, the best hot cross buns, see their recipe:
https://www.hobbshousebakery.co.uk/blogs/recipes/140078855-hot-cross-buns-recipe and bread for our daily freshly made sandwiches. More recently they helped us launch our pizza providing us with the sourdough dough and training colleagues.
Tom Herbert one of the Hobbs House family members and from a long line of bakers, has bread and community in his blood. Tom with a vision to feeding change one bite at a time set up The Long Table in Brimscombe, Stroud as a community interest company almost 2 years ago. The Long Table https://www.thelongtableonline.com/ is a community kitchen and restaurant that serves food that would have been binned or wasted. It is a space where one long table brings upwards of 80 together per sitting to share food and conversation. Every meal they have done so far and plan to do has great fresh milled sourdough bread at the centre.
People can contribute food, The Long Table can provide ingredient lists for shoppers, and money - people will pay for the meals with all proceeds being used to make free meals available for those that need them. By buying 7 meals for £25, you can support this incredible initiative at the www.thelongtableonline.com/ready-meals.
Campaign now live to help feed those in need
COVID-19 means low income families in Gloucester are already finding life tough, so we’re proud to be supporting the #FeedGloucester campaign to help feed those in need.
- Donate whatever you can afford; or
- Consider donating the cost of an Easter egg, or whatever you might have spent on Easter eggs to give the appeal a real boost this weekend?
Donate at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/feedgloucester and please share far and wide with whoever you can.
Thank you for your support. Together we can make a real impact.
Post an offer of help
You may have seen this handy card, which was designed for neighbours to offer help and support to more vulnerable members of their communities, by just posting it through the door and not requiring any face to face contact. Some kind print companies are printing these around the country, but otherwise it can be printed at home, if you have a printer. If not, why not just hand-write your own version?
Support your neighbours
Here are some more great ideas pulled together by our friends at the Gloucester Community Building Collective.
Social media groups and WhatsApp groups provide a great way to stay in touch with neighbours and help to combat loneliness. For many though, a regular phonecall for a general chat is just as good. It might be a great way to get to know your neighbours and hear about life histories.
Poster for community groups
Another helpful poster developed by Eden Project Communities, which shows five simple things you can do to make a difference in your communities.
If you choose to share information, just make sure it's from a trusted source like the NHS or Public Health England. At times like this sharing unsubstantiated personal opinions can be misleading and increase feelings of anxiety for some.
Clare said: "Gloucester Services is well known for it's sustainability and environmental credentials, and we try to make it part of everything we do from encouraging biodiversity in our ponds and green roofs to the way we source our meat from local producers."
"We work closely with lots of local schools in our target communities so it was great to have classes of different age groups come in and see what we do, and how we try to do it sustainably. For example, we work with over 130 local producers to source the ingredients for our Kitchens and the products for our Farmshops, minimising the distance items travel to get to us as well as supporting local businesses."
Some of the children also visited the 'Growing Communities' green space managed by GGT on the northbound site of Gloucester Services, which has had hundreds of fruit trees planted to encourage biodiversity, as well as it's own herb garden. Here's what some of the children thought about the experience:
"I liked the fresh bread and shortbread that was made on site by the bakers. It was delicious! The brownies and were great and the apple juice was sooooooo nice."
"I loved the view when we were in the growing gardens. It was really good that we could smell all the different types of herbs grown there and we learnt lots about the different plants that are grown there. It was really interesting!"
"It was amazing how that there are lots of things sold at the services that are local and help the environment by being produced nearby or on site. The cooks did a fantastic job to produce great quality food."
Clare continued: "We talked a lot about connecting people to nature, how important it is to us and how it helps our wellbeing. The pond and grounds here at Gloucester Services are important to customers, as being able to view nature makes us feel calmer and reduces stress.
We also talked about the bus service we run for our colleagues who work here, which they can also use on their non-working days. As an alternative, we also have a partnership we have with the bike project, encouraging people to think about alternative ways of travelling to work."
If your school or community group are interested in an educational visit to Gloucester Services, please contact us.
"You need to get yourself to Gloucester Services"
You know you've made it when you get not one but TWO mentions on BBC TV in one day.
On Monday morning's BBC Breakfast Show, reporter Dan Walker cited Gloucester Services as his favourite service station, telling his fellow reporters "you need to get yourself to Gloucester Services".
In particular, he credited the cakes and the green roof as some of his favourite reasons to visit.
"We can go ANYWHERE, like Gloucester Services"
Later in the day, viewers of BBC's cult comedy 'This Country', shown on BBC iPlayer were also treated to a mention.
The show, filmed locally in Northleach, Gloucestershire, focuses on two young people growing up in a rural village in the Cotswolds. In this week's episode, Kurtan is learning to drive, and he talks to his cousin Kerry (played by Daisy May Cooper) about being able to go ANYWHERE, like Gloucester Services. You'd be very welcome anytime!
Need another reason to visit?
“What a brilliant night, what a great turn out!” Bob Allen said of the Community Christmas event organised by the Matson, Robinswood and White City Community Partnership last Friday. About 200 children and adults brought lanterns big and small for the start of their lantern parade from Matson Library to Matson shops where hundreds more residents then joined the fun.
“It was a fantastic night. The lantern parade was emotional... It was great to see so many children from school and staff” said Alison Walker Head of Moat School . Schools, community and residents groups had taken the opportunity of free lantern making workshops across the area in the lead up to the event thanks to support from Matson Gateway based artist Soozy Roberts, Harriett West from Artshape and Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT).
The whole event had started from conversations at Culture Matson partnership three months ago when residents and partners where sharing their hopes and plans for a positive community Christmas. In typical local spirit, everyone joined up their plans and did it together.
Matson’s oak tree was lit up with stalls all around as choirs and beat boxers sang carols. Santa’s Grotto was beautifully created by Together in Matson and proved really popular, and the Matson Gateway supplied hundreds of free hot chocolates , cakes and freshly made soups.
“I feel so proud to live in Matson” one resident said at the end of the event.
Mark Gale of GGT summarised: "That sense of belonging and collaboration and how it brings success in our communities is what we will all take into 2020. We have to come together to make life better and our Community Christmas has definitely helped make this happen."
Mark, Chief Executive of GGT said: “We’re really lucky to work with great community partners like APT and Fair Shares who both do brilliant things to support residents in Gloucester and Stonehouse. The communities and residents are brilliant too, and it was our pleasure to treat them all to an afternoon at our lovely Gloucester Services. The cakes were a particular hit, as they are with me!”
One of our guests commented: "I didn't know about Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, the connection with Gloucester Services and all that it does locally, it's really inspiring." We thought our guests were the inspiring ones.
We're delighted to share our latest newsletter, packed with fun winter activities for all the family, plus inspiration on how to support your own community this Christmas and beyond.
We've already received some lovely feedback, please do have a read and let us know what you think! If you'd like us to send you a copy just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form on our contact page.
Click here to read.
You can check out another delicious recipe for stale bread with the Autumn Panzella, or this amazing treacle tart - hands down favourite of the day!
Treacle tart recipe
Sweet and sticky with a nuttiness from the spelt breadcrumbs, great hot or cold.
1. First, make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks, and mix to combine. Wrap the pastry and then allow to rest in the fridge. This could be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for several days. If the dough is very firm, allow to soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
2. Line 12 small tart cases or 1 large 23cm tart case and allow to rest in the fridge or freezer before baking.
3. Next, make the filling. Weigh out the syrup and place into a medium sized saucepan along with the butter. Warm gently until the butter has melted, do not allow the mixture to boil.
4. In a large bowl, mix the egg, cream and lemon zest until combined.
5. Add the syrup and butter to the eggs and cream and mix together. Add the breadcrumbs, keeping 2 handfuls in reserve. Stir to combine and allow to stand for 5 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to swell slightly.
6. Spoon the mixture in to the prepared cases until it is just below the rim of the pastry. Even the mixture out, if necessary.
7. Place onto a baking tray and bake for 25 / 30 minutes on 170C.
8. Remove from the oven once the treacle mixture is just set and the tops are golden.
9. Leave to cool in the tins. Serve hot or cold with custard, cream or ice-cream.
Our community partners receive bread that can no longer be sold by retailers to cook and share with residents, and bread is something we all often have left over. Here's the first recipe you can try too - big thanks to Hobbs House for sharing!
1. Peel and chop the vegetables into chunks, keeping each vegetable separate as they will cook at different rates. Toss them in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, add the rosemary.
2. Place in roasting trays and cook in a hot oven (180ºC) for about 30 – 40 minutes until soft and slightly caramelised. Add the chopped garlic and chilli towards the end of cooking.
3. Cut the stale bread into chunks and toss in a little olive oil. Toast lightly in the oven.
4. Allow the cooked vegetables and toasted bread to cool slightly.
5. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil together to make a dressing.
6. In a separate bowl, mix the cooked vegetables and the bread together, with the chopped parsley and the rocket salad.
7. Add the dressing to the salad and toss together making sure everything is coated and mixed together well.
8. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
9. Best served at room temperature.