SPECIAL craft and home schooling packs are to be distributed to families living in some of the most deprived areas of south Cumbria as part of a new community initiative.

The learn at home project which is targeted at Early Years children – those aged up to five – will take the shape of two specially designed packs to ease some of the challenges of teaching children at home.

And they will be distributed to families most in need of support, who do not have access to computers, printers or digital devices – ensuring children can engage in positive learning regardless of family circumstances.

Mum of twins, Kirsty Ridge, is behind the idea, saying she wanted to make a positive contribution to the communities her business is based in.

Kirsty, from Ulverston, is the managing director of Cumbria pub and brewery chain Lakeland Inns.

And while lockdown has not slowed the pace of work on a professional front – there are major developments afoot in the business – she has dedicated hours of her time to work with a design specialist to create the packs.

Kirsty said: “One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged me to do is reflect on what is important in life.

“Of course the last year has been incredibly challenging in a business sense – the pub and hospitality sector has been hit incredibly hard and we have worked tirelessly to ensure we still have a business to come back to, and jobs to offer, when this all ends.

“But I also realise that in spite of those challenges, I am incredibly lucky. I have had the opportunity to spend so much time with my girls and have had the resources to help them learn and develop.

“I recognise that not all parents are in this position and that for many reasons finances may be tight or they don’t have the resources at home to support home schooling in the way they would like.

“That’s why I decided to put together these learning packs. They are not meant to be a substitution for school work and they certainly cannot replace the input of our fantastic teachers, but anything that positively aids a child’s ability to learn in their early years can have an impact as they develop.”

“But I hope they will be a boost for families most in need and provide stimulation for their children as we all continue to do our best in difficult times.”

The packs contain wipe-clean books with learning exercises, tubs of play dough and packs of craft accessories. More than 500 will initially be made available and distributed via partnerships that Lakeland Inns has forged with local charities and organisations.