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New research has highlighted the range of benefits for young people who have taken part in the Government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programmes, including increased knowledge and skills, socialisation and wellbeing.

A review of the 2019 pilot for the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme also found that parents experienced positives, reporting that they spent more time with their children as well as socialising with other parents because of these programmes.

The Government’s HAF programme supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities this summer, ensuring disadvantaged children had access to healthy food and enriching activities over the school holidays. The programme has recently been expanded to even more children, to run at Easter, over the summer and at Christmas in 2021, building on the successful summer pilot.

Findings also revealed the impact of learning loss and hunger during the school holidays, demonstrating why providing the support to tackle this is so important. Reviewing 110 items of UK literature and international studies, evidence shows the negative effects of repeated episodes of hunger on children’s mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as on attainment and achievement in school.

The evaluation of the pilot programme found providers and their staff reported benefits to running these programmes including increased skills, greater consider and building relationships as part of a network within their local area.

Local Authorities have a deadline of 21 December to register their interest in hosting a HAF programme next year.

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said:

“It’s fantastic to see the positive results from an evaluation of our Holiday Activities and Food programme. It really shows how valuable these programmes are to disadvantaged children and families across the country.

“We have announced a significant expansion of our Holiday Activities and Food programme, up to £220m in 2021, which builds on the support we have given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic. I encourage Local Authorities to register their interest in hosting these vital schemes.”

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