A Royal-appointed artist is on the case – literally – to help aid some of the four-million children who returned to school in September without access to basic pens and pencils.
Jeremy Houghton, who has painted everyone from Her Majesty the Queen to Sir Andy Murray, is urging charitable Brits to fill a pencil case with stationery and help support disadvantaged pupils.
With Christmas looming, along with the threat of more intensive lockdowns, Jeremy said it was vital to help children unlock their creative side.
His charity, Heart Felt Tips, is urging the public to act now and bring the joy of colour and paint to millions of children who cannot afford even basic art materials.
“I feel so sorry for these kids who have had barely any school provision for six months and are in families who just can’t go out and buy new equipment for them at school or at home,” he explained.
“Pens, pencils, felt-tips and paintbrushes aren’t luxuries – they’re everyday items which our children need to express themselves, especially in turbulent times.
“In a digital world, we often forget the importance of a good pencil case and the tools inside it. When I was a child, I loved my pencil case, it completely opened up my eyes to what was possible at school.”
The father-of-two is also laying down the challenge to Britain’s biggest stationery providers to help utilise old and unwanted stock, and he urged schools around the country to support the plan.
“Nothing could be simpler, or easier, than to grab a pencil-case, fill it up with some felt-tips and pens, and then send it on to your local foodbank to distribute to the needy,” he said.
“We already have dozens of schools who support Heart Felt Tips but now is the time to amplify this message, whether that’s some of the stationery giants joining forces with us or individual households and groups.”
Jeremy hopes the pencil cases will be filled by children at schools, clubs and church groups and then distributed via frontline foodbanks, ensuring the kids who need them receive them quickly.
“It’s more important than ever that we provide this service to disadvantaged kids,” Jeremy added. “During lockdown, so much of the homeschooling focus will have been on keeping up the teaching of core subjects like maths, English and science but creative subjects like arts will have taken a back seat.”
All donations received will be set aside and quarantined for three days and then cleaned thoroughly before being sent on.
For more information and to get involved, please visit www.heartfelttips.co.uk