where it all started and where it is going

Our story

David Dorward retired as Chief Executive of Dundee City Council in 2014 and was aware of the impact of holiday hunger and family financial hardship on the attainment and life chances for too many children in Dundee. He was also aware of the huge challenges facing the city in relation to child poverty.

After hearing a lecture delivered by Lindsay Graham, a Winston Churchill Memorial fellow on the issue of Holiday Hunger at a Rank Foundation Conference in 2015, David returned to Dundee determined to start a school holiday meal provision in the city, filling the gap for those children who may otherwise go without during the school holiday period.  The Fun and Food programme piloted in 2016, and by 2017, Dundee Bairns became a registered Scottish Charity, planning substantial holiday provision, targeting areas of high multiple deprivation across Dundee City. 

Since then, Dundee Bairns has evolved to encompass many more projects, tackling more basic need for children all over Dundee. We have developed projects to help professionals working with families to refer vulnerable children for targeted support, making sure that help goes to where it is most needed

Over the years

Flexible, Agile, Responsive

Our Projects

Our Fun and Food programme delivers thousands of meals across Dundee every April, Summer and October school holiday.  Our team of incredible volunteers help us to deliver cold packed lunches, which are made by our providers at Tayside Contracts, out to hundreds of different community groups, schools, and family support teams, helping children to access food and experiences they would not have otherwise had. Projects can apply to us prior to each holiday for free physical lunch support, funding for breakfast and lunches, and funding to help them deliver activities. 

All Fun and Food supported activity delivered by our community partners must be free of charge or at very low cost to children and must be delivering activity that targets vulnerable children.

Fun and Food helps to support so many vital provisions, including nursery-P1 and P7-S1 transition, community fun days in areas of high multiple deprivation, playschemes for children with ASN, day trips for children from deprived communities, targeted childcare and much, much more.

Starting as a pilot, delivering just 400 meals in the Lochee Ward, Fun and Food came into it’s own during the Covid lockdown, ensuring that 57,640 meals were delivered to community hubs over 18 weeks, and has since been a staple of holiday provision for School and community groups. The summer of 2022 saw us deliver a whopping 37,000 meals to over 100 different projects. If you would like to join our volunteer team of drivers and help us deliver meals in school holiday periods, please apply here.

For information about Fun and Food please contact funandfooddundee@dundeebairns.org

The Dundee Bairns Tea Club has been able to evidence through a study carried out by Abertay University that even within a short time frame (10 weeks) that a homework and hot meal after school activity for a targeted pupil group can positively impact attainment, pupil perceptions of health and happiness, and teachers’ perceptions of pupil confidence and engagement with learning. All stakeholders noted the relationship benefits that were derived from the club both in terms of building bonds between teachers and parents, as well as enabling families to spend quality time together. The study concluded that there is evident merit in investing in this type of initiative to enhance the attainment and potential future employment opportunities of those living in, or at risk of, food poverty in Dundee.

Since 2018, Dundee Bairns has worked with schools to help deliver a two-course hot meal for vulnerable children over the winter months alongside meaningful school activity, and in 2022 this was extended to community groups to help them to help families to access meals during the Cost of Living Crisis.  See more about Tea Clubs and their impact in the report here.

 For more information about how to apply for Tea clubs please contact teaclubs@dundeebairns.org.

Dundee Bairns works closely with all schools in Dundee to take referrals for food support for families over the two-week Christmas holiday period.  During this time schools and many services are closed, and we hope to help families with food support during what is traditionally a very difficult and pressured time.

We supported 850 families in Dundee with access to food vouchers over the 2022 Christmas period, which helped us to help around 1,500 of the most vulnerable children in Dundee.  Our friends at the Apex Hotel have also helped to provide us with food hampers every year, stuffed with many goodies to help get families through.  Many businesses and staff teams help to contribute during this time with funding, support with deliveries and donations of items such as toys and non-perishable food items. To find out how to donate food or anything else, please click here.

Cosy Bairns was established as a response by Dundee Bairns to the issue of ventilated classrooms and outside learning measures that were in place in schools during the winter of 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. Many parents were struggling to equip their children with seasonally appropriate clothing and even more so to provide extra clothing to keep in school.  It was a really pressing issue and Dundee Bairns reacted very quickly to respond to the situation, providing physical clothing to 3,000 referred children from every nursery, primary and secondary school in the city. We have since evolved the project to become a voucher referral scheme for professionals working directly with children.  Professionals can refer whole families for clothing support through a special referral process.  We have helped around 8,000 children in this way since 2020, giving them dignity and choice in access to basic clothing. Read our Cosy Bairns report here to see how the project started.

For more information about Cosy Bairns please email cosybairns@dundeebairns.org.

Cooking Clubs are a new initiative by Dundee Bairns developed alongside School Family Development Workers to help them to help children learn how to work with, taste, try and cook with healthy foods.  The idea behind Cooking Clubs is to help support targeted work with vulnerable children to get them not only learning the basic ‘soft’ skills around food like chopping, squeezing, pouring, cooking, but also to help them to experience things like eating at a dinner table, serving others, working as a team and helping them to make basic meals that can be replicated at home. 

We provide funding of up to £500 per school term per school group to help them but the food and other essentials they need to help them to teach bairns about food, and we also provide all children who are learning through the Cooking Clubs with cooking packs containing basic equipment that they can take home at the end of a Cooking Club so that they might be able to show their families what they have learned. We are excited to grow and develop this project.

The Dundee Bairns Big Hoose Project is an exciting new project which will see hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of household items that would otherwise go to landfill re-distributed to help families.  Items such as beds, bedding, toiletries, kitchen items, nappies and many other things will be able to be requested by professionals working directly with families to help them to both survive and thrive at home. 

This is a partnership project with The Cottage Family Centre in Fife and Amazon Kirkcaldy which has the potential to change the way we look at both waste products and address the systems that keep people in poverty.

For more information on the Bairns at Home Project please contact bairnsathome@dundeebairns.org.

Dundee Bairns is a flexible, agile and responsive charity, working to support some of the most vulnerable children in Dundee, supporting many community projects, school groups and services to make sure that no child goes without