St Helens Council plan for summer and Christmas holiday clubs
Plans for Summer and Christmas Holiday Activities and Food clubs were outlined at a meeting of St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet this week following a hugely successful Easter launch programme.
The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, funded by a £730,920 Department for Education (DfE) grant, is targeted at families in receipt of free school meals with the aim of encouraging children to eat more healthily and be active while not in school by attending holiday clubs during the Easter, Summer and Christmas breaks.
Cabinet received overwhelmingly positive feedback from local families that took part in the recent Easter programme and heard how plans have been progressing for the year’s remaining school breaks.
Over Easter, 126 sessions from 19 local providers in the voluntary and faith sectors, catering and council services. Activities included jewellery making, art sessions, sensory crafts, cake decorating, and sports with the Saints Community Development Foundation.
There were also graffiti, DJing and breakdancing sessions with the UC Crew, pebble painting, bingo, drama, and online sessions to improve wellbeing and confidence.
134 food parcels and over 400 packed lunches were distributed across the two-week half term, and over 400 meals were provided during sessions, attended by 821 local children, many of which said frankly that had the Easter clubs not been provided, they’d more likely be staying in bed, eating junk food or online gaming.
Managed by St Helens Borough Council’s Early Help service, provision of the programme will be outsourced with the aim of partners like Halton and St Helens Voluntary Community Action coordinating and supporting voluntary and community sector providers to deliver the service in the spirit of the award-winning #StHelensTogether initiative, which recently won the Covid-19 Response Recognition Award at the national iNetwork Awards.
The programme has operated since 2018, with last year’s supporting more than 2,700 people who accessed 91 activities on offer across the borough, and 2,053 meals distributed to children in attendance.
One family to benefit from the scheme said: “My son loved the camp so much he asked if he could come back the following day. He said the multi-sports were great and the staff brilliant.
"He told me he had made new friends and he had the best sandwich he has ever had. The activities have helped him to socialise with other young people, develop social skills and reduce his anxiety.”
Ann-Marie Lawrenson, Capacity Lead for Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action, said: “I’d like to thank all the organisations that were able to get involved at such short notice and provide fun-filled, healthy, creative and inspiring activities, both online and face-to-face for so many local children.
"The feedback from everyone who took part has been overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to working with more organisations and supporting even more families over the summer.”
The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme is funded by the Department for Education and aimed at children aged 4-18 years.
Eligible families can register their interest by emailing [email protected]