This week I have had the pleasure of visiting both the Practically Family Holiday Club at Moss Hey Primary School, and the Playclub Unlimited at Bradshaw Hall Primary School. Both Holiday clubs are prime examples of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) that the Government brought into effect in November 2020. This holiday provision is for children who receive benefits-related free school meals. Local authorities are asked to ensure that the offer of free holiday club provision is available for all children eligible for and in receipt of free school meals in their area. This does not mean they are all required to attend as the provision is voluntary.
The free holiday club places must be targeted at children who are eligible for and receiving benefits-related free school meals. It is also encouraged that local authorities make the holiday clubs available to any children not eligible for and in receipt of free school meals, meaning families can pay for their children to attend these holiday clubs.
As a result of this programme, the children who attend this provision will:
- eat more healthily over the school holidays
- be more active during the school holidays
- take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing along with their wider educational attainment
- be safe and not to be socially isolated
- have a greater knowledge of health and nutrition
- be more engaged with school and other local services
The programme gives families:
- understanding of nutrition and food budgeting
- information and support, for example, health, employment and education
I am a massive supporter of the HAF programme, speaking about it in the House of Commons as well as writing a letter to the Minister advocating the programme and its development for children across not only Cheadle but the UK too. The Government has provided Stockport council with funding of £975,000 to accommodate the HAF programme.
It was wonderful to see the children dive into all the activities that have been made available to them by these holiday clubs. These holiday clubs encourage children to learn and develop new skills through a variety of activities, whether that be academic, sport or even woodland learning. The facilities that these holiday clubs have available for the children are perfect for enhancing these skills and getting active.