Welcome to the Lewisham Children and Family Centre Website



Are you struggling to buy baby formula, milk or fruit and veg?

Applying online

If you get Universal Credit, you can apply online if:

  • you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family’s monthly ‘take-home pay’ (also called ‘earned income’) is £408 or less from employment

Important: Universal Credit claimants

To be paid correctly for all of your children, make sure that each child is named on your Universal Credit claim.

Go to your Universal Credit account (opens in a new tab) to check this.

If you get Child Tax Credit, you may be eligible for Healthy Start if:

  • your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less
  • you do not get Working Tax Credit

Most people who get Child Tax Credit can apply online. You can apply online if you’re either:

  • more than 10 weeks pregnant and have children under the age of 4
  • not pregnant but have children under the age of 4

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant and have other children who are all aged 4 or older, you’ll need to apply by email or phone.

To apply online, you’ll need your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • baby’s due date (if you’re pregnant)
  • benefit award letter if you’re over 18 – make sure you enter the exact details shown on your benefit award letter

Make sure that your details are up to date with HMRC or DWP – you may wish to contact them to check or update your details before you apply.


If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. We’ll add your benefit onto this card every 4 weeks.

You can use your card to buy:

  • plain liquid cow’s milk
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • infant formula milk based on cow’s milk

You can also use your card to collect:

  • Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • vitamin drops for babies and young children – these are suitable from birth to 4 years old

How much you’ll get

You’ll get money added onto your Healthy Start card every 4 weeks.

You’ll get:

  • £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the 10th week
  • £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1 year old
  • £4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4 years old

Your money will stop when your child is 4 years old, or if you do not get benefits that make you eligible.

You can also get free vitamins with your card.

Shopping with your card

You should only use your card to buy certain types of milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables.

You need to activate your card before you can use it. The first time you use your card you’ll need to use your PIN. After that, you can make contactless payments.

When you use contactless four times in a row, or spend a combined £150, you’ll need to use your PIN on the next transaction. This is to help with the security of your card.

You cannot use your Healthy Start card:

  • online
  • outside of the UK, including the Republic of Ireland
  • on your phone’s wallet app
  • to withdraw cash from a cashpoint
  • to get cashback

Where to shop

You can use your card in most places that sell milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables. This includes:

  • supermarkets
  • convenience stores
  • grocery stores
  • drug stores and pharmacies
  • markets
  • dairy products stores
  • news dealers and newsstands
  • freezer and locker meat provision (such as butcher shops)
  • petrol stations

They must display a Mastercard® symbol. The symbol is normally shown on the shop door or at the till. Ask an employee inside the shop if they take Mastercard if you’re unsure.

If you try to spend the money anywhere else, the card will be declined. For example, you cannot use your card at a fast food restaurant.

How to shop

You can only spend up to the balance of your card.

You can split payments between your Healthy Start card and your normal bank card or cash. Some shops will need to do this as separate transactions.

At self-checkout machines you can only split payments between your Healthy Start card and cash, not another bank card.

Do not worry if you make a mistake when using your Healthy Start card to buy healthy food with other shopping. It will not affect your benefit payments.

A shopping example

Sam has £10 left on their Healthy Start card and goes to their local supermarket.

They put £6 of fresh vegetables and £2 of plain cow’s milk in their basket. They also pick up £5 of toiletries and £5 of bread and cereal.

When Sam gets to the tills, they should pay for the:

  • £8 of vegetables and milk with their Healthy Start card
  • £10 of toiletries, bread and cereal with their bank card or cash


If you need to get a refund on something you’ve bought, go back to the shop with your items, receipt and Healthy Start card. The money will be refunded to your Healthy Start card.


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