Thousands of children and families from across Staffordshire enjoyed free activities and food over the summer holidays thanks to a successful programme.
The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme was delivered by Staffordshire County Council with funding from the Department for Education.
The authority teamed up with 22 local providers who helped support thousands of children in receipt of free school meals or at risk of financial exclusion. Over 40,000 activity places and food items were delivered, with over 50% of eligible children attending the sessions.
Activities keeping children aged 5 to 16 engaged included dodgeball, archery, horse riding, circus skills, animal interaction, camping and other more traditional activities.
A similar programme with charities, community groups, schools, and other organisations will run during the Christmas school holidays from 20 December until 31 December.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, visited activities in all districts.
Mark said: “Working with great local providers, we were able to deliver an amazing range of activities to thousands of children and families on low incomes.
“This is a really important programme, which is all about giving parents and carers additional help by providing good food and organised activities, to keep children well-fed and busy over the school holidays. It’s brilliant that we’ve been able to support so many families and we’re now looking forward to delivering a similar programme over the Christmas holidays.”
Parents and carers have also praised the programme saying that their children are happier, more active and more confident after attending the activities. One parent said: “My daughter loves to learn through play/activities and can get quite bored and agitated with normal lessons, so this camp has been brilliant for her. She has been excited every morning to go to camp and her moods have been brilliant these last 2 weeks.”
One young person said: “I was so nervous to come here today but I can’t believe how much fun I’ve had and how many new friends I have made.”
Schools have also noticed the difference, reporting that the children are more focused, healthier, with bigger friendship groups and improved social skills.
Natasha Branston, founder of Educating Kids Outdoors (EKO), one of the providers that delivered at Weston Park, commented “Following our HAF summer funding, several schools contacted us about outdoor learning and forest school provision. As a result, we are now offering after school clubs, funded by Staffordshire schools, which is great and means more children can enjoy our outdoor activities.”