Water company United Utilities has forked out £1,000 to help fund hundreds of breakfasts and lunches for youngsters attending Carlisle Youth Zone’s Summer Holiday Club.

The donation will allow youth workers to feed hungry young people for free for a week – no matter what their family’s financial circumstances.

It is ‘payback’ for the disruption caused near the club as the company replaced water pipes.

Fiona Fergus, business support manager for the Youth Zone said more than 550 young people attended the five week holiday club during last year’s summer holidays.

But for some families, finding the money for their children to go was a financial strain.

She explained: “In previous school holidays our youth workers have reported seeing young people eating the leftovers of others, attending with an empty lunch box as they desperately don’t want to be seen as the kid with no food and we also see many young people who have very little energy to participate in the activities going on around them.

“Last year we received funding to provide free spaces for families in need and for the cost of food for everyone.

“This year, we cannot afford to take on the cost of the free meals. The money from United Utilities will help us feed all our young people over the summer period for a week.”

Paul Wheadon of United Utilities said project staff had been working in Victoria Place near to the centre for several weeks as part of a £14m scheme to clean and refurbish more than 30km of water pipes in the city.

The donation came about when they learned about the Youth Zone’s work.

Paul said: “It’s not cheap sending kids to a club during the summer holidays and Carlisle Youth Zone depends on sponsors to help make sure underprivileged children get the same chances as everyone else without stigma.

“It’s a great project and when Fiona told us how many youngsters really have their eyes opened when they come along we wanted to help out.

“There’s no way of digging up two huge water pipes under a road this busy without causing some inconvenience, despite taking every opportunity we can to keep it to a minimum. So it’s really nice to give something back,” he said.