Free School Meals for NRPF Families
NRPF stands for No Recourse to Public Funds. It’s a condition that applies to most migrants in the UK. It means they are not entitled to the majority of welfare benefits, including jobseekers’ allowance, housing benefit and social housing.
These families may have children in school, but as the cost of living rises steeply, families in this situation are amongst the most vulnerable in our society.
Many church and school communities in the Diocese of London will be in contact with these vulnerable individuals and families.
WHAT IS THE POLICY CHANGE ON FREE SCHOOL MEALS FOR NRPF FAMILIES?
You will have heard the Mayor of London’s recent announcement that every London primary school pupil can access free school meals next academic year. This is welcome news!
However, this scheme ends in September 2024 and does not include secondary schools, so it’s important to also highlight a recent change to government policy.
In April 2022, the Department for Education made free school meals permanently available to families affected by the the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy, who meet the eligibility criteria. Critically, this includes children whose families may have irregular immigration status (referred to by some as “undocumented”).
This was a very welcome decision that should allow thousands of children living in poverty to access one nutritious meal a day. This change also allows schools to get further funding through the pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged children.
3 minutes on free school meals for NRPF families
The Bishop of Stepney, The Rt Revd Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell and Mary Senjobi, Citizens UK help us to understand:
- Why this is something we as church and school communities should care about.
- The recent changes in policy.
- What church communities can do to support this, and get the message out.
A SCHOOL’S EXPERIENCE OF SUPPORTING NRPF FAMILIES
Marta Tildesley (Family Support Worker at St Mary’s Primary School, Lewisham) helps us understand a school perspective on supporting families with NRPF to access free school meals.
Citizens UK on who is eligible & how to apply
Mary Senjobi (Citizens UK) helps us to understand: -
- What is NRPF?
- Who is now eligible for Free School Meals?
- How to apply for Free School Meals.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS CHURCH AND SCHOOL COMMUNITIES?
We can pray! This faith pack includes prayer guidance, reflections and prompts – and a way for congregations to take action together if this feels appropriate.
Spread the message about this policy change so that more vulnerable families are not missing out on the free school meals they could access. For example, could your church community host a coffee morning to let families they are in contact with know about this change in policy?
Share this information with any teachers, headteachers or governors within church and school communities, so that they are aware of this policy change.
- Speak to your local school about any ways to support them, such as supporting families whose first language may not be English to fill in the application form, or hosting an information event in your church.
USEFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES ON FREE SCHOOL MEALS FOR FAMILIES WITH NRPF
- Free School Meals for Families with NRPF (The Children’s Society)
- How Families affected by NRPF can access Free School Meals (Praxis for Migrants and Refugees)
- Providing Free School Meals to families with NRPF (UK Government)
- A helpful briefing paper which helps explain the policy change and eligibility
Get In Touch!
Want to know more, or think more about this issue as a church or deanery?
Get in touch with us HERE