Children who receive benefit-related free school meals can take advantage of nutritious food and high quality activities throughout the holidays thanks to a new project.

The council has secured funding from the Department for Education (DFE) for a Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme. It will see the council working with Edsential, a community interest company, to put in place a range of holiday activities with food provision as part of it.

The HAF programme – which will cover the forthcoming Easter holidays, as well as the summer and Christmas holidays – aims to provide healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children.

Through the scheme the government aims to ease the burden of school holidays on struggling families who often face increased costs (such as food and childcare) and reduced incomes. For some children that can lead to a holiday experience gap, with children from disadvantaged families less likely to access organised out-of-school activities and more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health.

Evidence suggests that free holiday clubs can have a positive impact on children and young people and that they work best when they are consistent and easily accessible.

Paula Worthington, Director of Education, Early Help and SEND, said: “We have all been impacted by the coronavirus crisis, but some residents have experienced greater impact than others. We want to make sure that all of our families are supported. It’s vital that young people who receive free school meals do not miss out on healthy food and enriching activities whilst out of school.

“I am pleased we have been able to secure this government funding to deliver holiday activity programmes until the end of the year. The first programme gets underway at the start of the Easter holidays, we hope this will benefit and help keep young people healthy, happy and active during the holiday period.”

If you need help or support

Any family in need of support during the holidays is urged to email