From education to employment

Free holiday activities and meals for disadvantaged families

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi announces funding for thousands of families to benefit from free healthy meals and activities in the summer holidays.

As the school holidays start across the UK, the Department for Education has announced a £2million fund to provide healthy meals and activities throughout the school holidays for children and young people in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the UK.

The funding has been allocated to seven charities including StreetGames which has been selected to receive funding to support its ‘Fit and Fed’ holiday hunger programme.

The ‘Fit and Fed’ campaign aims to provide children and young people with free access to activity sessions and a nutritious lunch during the school holidays. The initiative is geared towards alleviating holiday hunger and inactivity and helping the UK’s poorest families, 73% of whom  cannot always afford to feed their children during the school holidays, something that is estimated to effect 3 million children and young people across the UK and 700,000 in London.

A series of projects, will be run across the country including the North East, Birmingham and London, providing activities such as free football classes, play sessions and cooking classes.

These projects, running across the summer, will also provide free meals for the most disadvantaged families who may rely on the Free School Meals they receive during term time.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

For most pupils, the end of the school summer term signals the start of holidays, days out and a chance tomake memories with friends and family. Other families, who might rely on the support provided by schools,are not so lucky.

These projects will provide a range of support for families during the summer break. They will also givechildren access to experiences that won’t just create great memories but will help broaden their horizons andbuild the confidence they need to succeed in whatever path they choose to follow.

Academic standards are rising across the country and there are now 1.9 million more children in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010. Most importantly, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers has already shrunk by 10% at GCSE and 10.5% at KS2 since 2011.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of government backed schemes to help disadvantaged children. These include the £2.25billion Pupil Premium, Free School Meals and most recently a £26million investment to kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in at least 1,700 schools.

Commenting on the announcement, Lindsay Graham, independent policy advisor who has campaigned on this issue in the past, said:

The school holidays can be a challenging and costly time for families, particularly for those on a limitedincome or whose children are reliant on term time free school meals.

The need for community led enrichment opportunities for children, young people and their families isparamount for helping the most disadvantaged in our society. Early research in the UK is telling us that thesetypes of projects can make a difference.

Evidence suggests that attending out-of-school activities can have a positive impact on children’s educational, health and well-being outcomes. The projects announced today will be run by Children North East, Family Action, Feeding Britain, Birmingham Holiday Kitchen, Onside Youth Zones, Street Games and TLG (Transforming Lives for Good).

This funding comes after the government announced that it would run a targeted pilot programme in the 2019 Easter and summer holidays.

This work aims to support children’s education by:

  • testing the effectiveness of interventions
  • looking at take-up of provision
  • identifying the costs involved
  • considering whether there are particular areas where this kind of programme would be most effective

To ensure this work is implemented effectively, ministers will work closely with Frank Field MP and expert stakeholders, as it develops.

Details of the bidding process for participation in the 2019 Easter and summer pilots will be announced in due course.

There is evidence to suggest that attending out-of-school activities can have a positive impact on children’s educational, health and well-being outcomes – Chanfreau et al. Out of school activities during primary school and KS2 attainment (2016) UCL Working Paper.

About StreetGames: StreetGames will support  1,700 children and young people.  34 Local Trusted Organisations – typically, constituted community groups or charities – will partner educationalists, sports leaders, and caterers to provide enrichment activities at one of 80 venues. Each venue will deliver for 4 hours per day, for 20 days over the summer holidays, supporting disadvantaged 8-18 year olds and their families. Two meals a day, educational and health enhancing physical activity will be provided. Disadvantaged older teenagers will be able to volunteer at the venues, and families will be able to take part in activities together including cooking classes, arts activities and active play, StreetGames will support  older teenagers to take part in activities on their own, like going to the gym.

About Feeding Britain: The holiday clubs will aim to reach 23,000 children between 3 and 18, with the majority of clubs targeting children between 6 and 11. They will guarantee at least one healthy meal on each day of provision, preventing children going hungry and contributing to an improved diet over the summer. The charity will seek to mitigate summer learning loss for disadvantaged children through enrichment activities, while boosting social interaction. The clubs will support disadvantaged parents by helping them build stronger links with their local community, reduce pressure on household finances, and access volunteering and skills development opportunities.

About Family Action: They will provide a programme of fun and educational activities alongside healthy meals and snacks for vulnerable families during school holidays. They will work in partnership with local delivery partners such as schools, Children’s Centres and voluntary organisations to deliver our tried and tested Holiday Hub model to 40 new settings in six focused areas during summer holidays 2018.  The programme will offer children and their parents/carers free healthy food alongside a range of enrichment activities, including food preparation, cooking, budgeting, music, drama, crafts, physical activity, growing food, educational trips in the local community and signposting to local support services. Their 40 settings will deliver to 800 participants, of whom at least 480 will be children – the rest will be parents and carers.

About Children North East: They will work with 16 primary and secondary schools across 6 local authority areas in the North East to provide over 480 disadvantaged children and young people with healthy food and a wide range of enrichment activities. Each school will target 30 of their most disadvantaged pupils to attend the 4-6 week programmes that will take place for at least 4 hours a day for 4 days a week.  Some schools will aim their scheme at the important transition point between Primary and Secondary education where disadvantaged children often underachieve in comparison to their peers.

About OnSide Youth Zones: They will offer free access to a summer holiday programme for 1,444 young people.  Almost 1,000 8-13 year olds will receive breakfast and lunch and participate in sports, arts, STEM and life/character skills building activities supporting their improved health, wellbeing and personal development. In addition, 455 seniors, aged 13 to 19 (up to 25 with a disability), will be able to access similar activities and a free meal in the evening between 6pm – 9pm. This will include opportunities to participate in Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food cookery workshops to build understanding of healthy eating and skills to cook nutritious affordable meals further alleviating holiday hunger.

About Birmingham Holiday Kitchen: Holiday Kitchen, developed by Accord Housing Association and delivered by children’s centres offers free family wellbeing activities and healthy communal meals for pre and primary aged children and their families during school holidays.  They will provide 19,860 days of holiday learning, food and play activities to vulnerable disadvantaged children and accompanying parents/carers:

  • 15 Saturday brunch sessions and 10 District events aimed at fathers/working parents
  • 32 Weekday/ brunch sessions aim to reach 2170 children and 890 parent/carers. 

Expected child age profile: 45% under 5yrs, 40% 5-9yrs , 10% 10-15yrs and 5% 16-18yrs.

About TLG (Transforming Lives for Good): TLG will mobilise community volunteers to provide hot, healthy and nutritional meals, building a sense of community and reducing family isolation and stress. The clubs will improve wellbeing and where applicable, support parents in the education of their children.

The charity will provide enrichment activities including nutritional education and promote healthy living and physical exercise. They expect to support just under 3,000 disadvantaged children (aged 0-16) in multiple locations (serving over 15,000 meals) and with a focus (but not exclusively) on those in receipt of Free School Meals.

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