Andover’s businesses have stepped up to the plate to provide for struggling families after parliament rejected a motion to extend free school meal provision.

One of these was Andover Aesthetic Practitioners, who put out a call on Facebook for other businesses to support them in providing food vouchers to families in need this half-term.

The company said it would donate five £30 food vouchers to those who contacted them in confidence. Two were given out within hours of the call going out on Thursday, October 22, but other businesses have since lent their support.

Field Electrical donated another three vouchers, followed by DF Mobility donating two. They were followed by GCS Bookkeeping and Business Services and Andover Plastering, who donated two and three respectively.

A local man, Mr Rhodes, subsequently donated six vouchers, bringing the total number of vouchers to 21, worth some £630, with four having been given to families in need at the time of writing. Subsequently, the group have raised almost £3,000.

Andover Aesthetic Practitioners said: “As mothers ourselves we cannot bear the thought of children going hungry this half term.”

Café Bridge, which recently announced a pay it forward scheme for customers to donate meals that could be reclaimed by struggling individuals, reiterated its support for those in need, saying: “If you are struggling in half term to feed your children and yourselves please come to us.”

“You can come in and choose a post-it note from our board by the till and we will provide you and your children with lunch - no questions asked.”

They added, however, that they may ask if those using the service would like ketchup.

Andover’s MP, Kit Malthouse, was one of 322 MPs to vote against the Labour motion to extend the provision of free school meals over school holidays until Easter 2021.

He was criticised on social media, with rapper Professor Green labelling him a “pig.”

However, Kit Malthouse defended the actions of the government, telling BBC Today that  “We just think there is a different way to help those families who are on low income and that means through the welfare system, which we have carefully built over the last few years and which has performed extremely well during the crisis.”

Anyone wishing to claim one of the businesses vouchers for themselves, or to nominate someone in need, has been asked to privately message Andover Aesthetic Practitioners’ Facebook Page, found here: