School holidays can be particularly difficult for some families because of increased costs (such as food and childcare) and reduced incomes.
For some children that can lead to a holiday experience gap - with children from some families less likely to access organised out-of-school activities; more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health; and more likely to experience social isolation.
Free holiday clubs help with this issue and evidence suggests that they can have a positive impact on children and young people and that they work best when they provide consistent and easily accessible activities, for more than just breakfast or lunch, and when they involve children (and parents) in food preparation.
In Slough there are approximately 5,000 children eligible for Free School Meals. This year the Department for Education will be providing grant funding to coordinate free holiday provision - including healthy food and activities - for children who receive benefits-related free school meals (FSM). It will of course be optional for eligible children to attend this provision if they wish.
The holiday clubs will also be available to any children not eligible for free school meals, who can pay to attend.
Slough Borough Council is working with a range of providers (private, voluntary, independent, and charities) to offer places where children will be able to eat more healthily over the school holidays; be more active and be safe and have fun.
This programme will be an amazing opportunity for all our children (not just those eligible for free school meals) during the school holidays to learn more about health and nutrition, eat well and get active with their peers. It will provide a safe place for them to play, enjoy and learn and reduce social isolation. Whilst delivered virtually through the Easter break we are hopeful that services will resume to face to face for the summer holiday programme which will cover four weeks.
- Michael Jarrett, Associate Director, Children and Families