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Do you want to become a HAF provider?

Our aims

We aim to provide healthy food and enriching activities during the holidays to children who receive benefits-related free school meals (14,700 children in Walsall). The programme offers valuable support to families on lower incomes. It gives them access to rewarding and active activities, as well as healthy meals during the school holidays.

We are working with 50 providers to deliver a combination of holiday clubs and pick and mix sessions to engage with eligible children and young people in Walsall. We are building on what we've learnt and on our strong partnership with providers. We want to upscale the provision, and make it a programme that is attractive and meet the needs of all eligible children and young people. 

If you are interested in becoming a provider for Walsall please email

Frequently asked questions

On 27 October 2021 the government announced a further investment of over £200 million per year over the next 3 financial years for the holiday activities and food programme (HAF), which follows the successful roll out of the programme across England in 2021.

The funding for each local authority will be confirmed in the grant determination letter for the programme on an annual basis. 

Since 2018, our holiday activities and food programme has provided support to children in receipt of free school meals through holiday periods.

Following successful pilots between 2018 and 2020, the programme was rolled out to all upper tier local authorities in 2021.

Research has shown that the school holidays can be pressure points for some families. For some children this can lead to a holiday experience gap, with children from low-income households being:

  • less likely to access organised out-of-school activities
  • more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health
  • more likely to experience social isolation

Our HAF programme is a response to this issue, with evidence showing that free holiday clubs can have a positive impact on children and young people, and that they work best when they:

  • provide consistent and easily accessible enrichment activities
  • cover more than just breakfast or lunch
  • involve children (and parents) in food preparation
  • use local partnerships and connections, particularly with the voluntary and community organisation sector

In 2021, the HAF programme enabled us to support hundreds of thousands of children and their families throughout the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays.


For more information, visit the DfE website.

As a result of this programme, we want children who attend this provision to:

  • eat healthily over the school holidays
  • be 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

We also want to ensure that the families who participate in this programme:

  • develop their understanding of nutrition and food budgeting
  • are signposted towards other information and support, for example, health, employment, and education

Framework of standards

This section sets out the standards we expect for all HAF providers. In designing and implementing their HAF programme, we expect local authorities to make best use of the variety of local and national organisations who are available to support them and their providers in the delivery of these aspects of the HAF programme.

From delivery of the programme in 2021, we know that delivering the HAF programme to these high standards can be a challenge, and local authorities should ensure that they seek support to ensure that the providers they work with meet them.

It is the local authority’s role to ensure standards are met across the programme, and to support local providers who do not meet them to ensure they are adequately supported through training, support and partnerships.

Not all providers have to deliver all aspects of the programme but our clear expectation is that all eligible children and their families should benefit from all aspects of the programme. This might mean that local authorities adopt a blended approach to ensuring children and families can access different aspects of the programme through different providers.

Food provision

Providers must provide at least one meal a day (breakfast, lunch or tea) and all food provided at the holiday club (including snacks) must meet school food standards.

Our expectation is that the majority of food served by providers should be hot. However, we acknowledge that there will be occasions when this is not possible and cold food should be used where it is appropriate.

We know that this aspect of the programme, which overlaps with nutritional education and food education, can be challenging, and we encourage local authorities to adequately plan and prepare for this, including engaging with experts and partners as appropriate.

All food provided as part of the programme must:

  • comply with regulations on food preparation
  • take into account allergies and dietary requirements (see the allergy guidance for schools)
  • take into account any religious or cultural requirements for food

There is flexibility in the design of the food provision which should always be tailored to ensure that all food meets the dietary needs of the children and families who attend. The food served should also be appropriate for the nature of the session, for example, offering cold packed lunches for parks or outdoor venues or for day trips.

While there can be benefits to using a central food service to provide meals to HAF clubs, we expect local authorities to carefully consider whether using a central food service is the right approach for providing high quality, attractive and tailored meals for those attending the HAF programme.

Providing food on site can provide an opportunity to engage children and families in food preparation and nutrition. Providers have reported that when children are involved in designing menus and the preparation of food, they are more engaged and more willing to try new and healthier food. We recommend that local authorities consider the provision of the food element of the HAF programme, in particular in making sure that providers and children are involved in the planning and preparation of food. Such a developmental approach is key to effecting long-term change in engagement with food and nutrition.

There are also environmental factors to consider when planning the food provision and local authorities should consider whether clubs preparing food on their own premises would produce less food and packaging waste and result in fewer food-miles than off-site, centralised provision.

Food providers

Local authorities should ensure that the providers they work with are, where applicable, registered as a food business. This provides reassurance to those involved that food safety standards are being met.

A food business is defined as anyone preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying or selling food. Further information is available on food business registration.

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing food hygiene laws and can inspect any registered food business at any point in the food production and distribution process. We recommend that HAF coordinators within each local authority are in regular contact with their food safety inspectors to ensure that HAF providers are fully compliant.

Food information regulations - Natasha’s Law

From 1 October 2021, changes to the Food Information Regulations 2014 came into effect, adding new labelling requirements for food that is pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS).

Local authorities should take the time to read the guidance on the Food Standards Agency website and ensure that all food provision for the HAF programme meets these requirements.

Enrichment activities

Holiday clubs must provide fun and enriching activities that provide children with opportunities to:

  • develop new skills or knowledge
  • consolidate existing skills and knowledge
  • try out new experiences
  • have fun and socialise

This could include but is not limited to:

  • physical activities, for example football, swimming, table tennis or cricket
  • creative activities, for example putting on a play, junk modelling or drumming workshops
  • experiences, for example a nature walk or visiting a city farm
  • free play, for example fun and freedom to relax and enjoy themselves

Physical activities

Holiday clubs must provide activities that meet the physical activity guidelines on a daily basis.

In line with those guidelines we expect:

  • all children and young people participating in the HAF programme should engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for an average of at least 60 minutes per day - this does not have to be in the form of a structured activity session, but can include active travel, free play and sports
  • children and young people participating in the HAF programme should engage in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity to develop movement skills, muscular fitness and bone strength
  • children and young people should aim to minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary, and when physically possible should break up long periods of not moving with at least light physical activity

Nutritional education

Providers must include an element of nutritional education each day aimed at improving the knowledge and awareness of healthy eating for children. These do not need to be formal learning activities and could for example include activities such as:

  • getting children involved in food preparation and cooking
  • growing fruit and vegetables
  • taste tests
  • discussing food and nutrition
  • including food and nutrition in other activities

Food education for families and carers

We expect HAF providers to make available weekly training and advice sessions for parents, carers or other family members. These should provide advice on how to source, prepare and cook nutritious and low-cost food. This could be combined with the nutritional education aspect of the programme, for example, by inviting children and their families to prepare and eat a meal together.

Signposting and referrals

HAF providers should be able to provide information, signposting or referrals to other services and support that would benefit the children who attend their provision and their families.

This could include sessions provided by:

  • Citizen’s Advice
  • school nurses, dentists or other healthcare practitioners
  • family support services or children’s services
  • housing support officers
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • organisations providing financial education
  • early years and childcare, including help to pay for childcare (such as Tax-Free Childcare)

Policies and procedures

There are a wide variety of organisations and individuals involved in the delivery of the holiday activities and food programme including but not limited to:

  • schools
  • colleges
  • nurseries
  • private providers
  • charities
  • youth clubs
  • community groups

All of these groups must be able to demonstrate that they have in place relevant and appropriate policies and procedures for:

  • safeguarding, including the recruitment of staff and volunteers
  • health and safety
  • relevant insurance policies
  • accessibility and inclusiveness


Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. We want every HAF club to be a safe and happy place for children to be and for parents, carers and families to feel confident that their child is well looked after and that robust safeguarding arrangements are in place.

Local authorities are statutorily responsible for safeguarding in relation to children in need, under s.17 of the Children Act 1989, and looked after children under s.20 of the Children Act 1989.

We encourage all local authorities to work closely with their local safeguarding children partnership to make them aware of the HAF programme, and what it can offer, and to ensure that they can support the programme to ensure robust safeguarding arrangements are in place.

As set out in working together to safeguard children, safeguarding is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action if you identify children to be at risk of harm

Local authorities should ensure that their local safeguarding partners understand the holiday activities and food programme and those working on the delivery of the programme are familiar with the working together to safeguard children guidance.

There are a number of accredited organisations who can provide safeguarding and child protection training courses for those involved in working with children. We expect local authorities to be able to demonstrate that those involved in the delivery of the holiday activities and food programme in their area are competent and have received adequate training and support.

We expect every local authority to produce and maintain a central register of all of the providers they fund through their HAF programme, and to put in place a robust system for inspecting each provider and ensuring all adhere to the standards set out in this guidance.

In Walsall we have 14,731 children who are on roll in Walsall schools, whose parents claim free school meals. Of these:

  • 9,150 are aged 5 to 11 (primary school age children
  • 4,608 are aged 12 to 16 (secondary school age children)

We have undertaken a mapping exercise to understand where children entitled to free school meals live. 

A map showing all pupils eligible for free school meals in Walsall

See below split into Ward / Locality 

Locality/Ward Eligibility Count
Central & South 3287
Paddock 263
Palfrey 1096
Pleck 1179
St Matthew's 749
East 2461
Aldridge Central & South 293
Aldridge North & Walsall Wood 383
Brownhills 666
Pelsall 289
Pheasey Park Farm 188
Rushall-Shelfield 535
Streetly 107
North 4922
Birchills Leamore 1381
Blakenall 1756
Bloxwich East 969
Bloxwich West 816
West 3981
Bentley & Darlaston North 995
Darlaston South 1185
Short Heath 427
Willenhall North 413
Willenhall South 961

As the local authority, we will be coordinating the programme. Our support will include:

  • the provision of a central registration and booking portal
  • access to a online portal where you can:
    • see registered child/ren and their contact details, dietary requirements, SEND information, medical needs, emergency contacts
    • email the parents direct to give instructions on your holiday camps
    • record attendance
  • communication and promotion of the programme to parents/ carers, children and young people and professionals
  • central evaluation and monitoring – as a provider you will not be asked to undertake any monitoring for the programme, as this will be all done through the central portal
  • a training and support workshop to help you in the delivery of the HAF programme
  • help with exploring and securing additional support for your programme to ensure you can meet the children’s needs (for example, we may be able to offer additional staff to support children with a disability to be part of your provision)
  • regular check-ins and problem solving throughout the programme
  • one point of contact for parents with queries about the programme

Yes, we welcome applications which are a partnership between providers as this can maximise resources and opportunities. 

For example:

  • one provider could offer the venue and healthy food aspect, while the other provider delivers the activities
  • providers can bring different skills and experiences to the programme

No, your provision can be open to all children. We would encourage providers to deliver to a range of children to ensure inclusivity and non-stigmatising.

The funding, however, will only be available to the eligible cohort. This means that other children can access the provision by paying, or if you secure additional funding from other sources.

The application will ask you for your total capacity, and the percentage of places targeted at children in receipt of free school meals (FSM).

As part of the HAF requirements we have some minimum expectations for all providers to ensure effective delivery of the programme. If we do not see evidence for this, we will be unable to pay the final 20% of the funding.

You are expected to:

  • have contact with us through the programme, reporting on progress, changes, issues, evidence of how your programme is going
  • send a return of attendance / evaluation after the end of the programme
  • submit a finance form of your costings after the end of the programme
  • ensure you will be proactive in promoting your HAF programme - this may include liaising with local schools and community venues
  • have contact with the child who has booked on with confirmation /  practical arrangements for the activities, or to clarify any information about their needs

Funding will be paid as a grant: 80% before the start of the programme and 20% on completion of the programme.

The 20% will be paid after delivery on receipt of attendance, evaluation and confirmation of spending.

Yes you can. If you feel that your organisation cannot deliver the full model or standards of the programme but your offer could add value, please come and talk to us.

We may put you in touch with another provider to develop a partnership bid, or explore with you how your activity could complement the HAF offer.

The costs can include anything related to delivery expenditure of your programme (for example, resources, staffing, venue, food). 

We are not able to fund capital aspects of your programme (for example, improvements to the venue, new equipment).

If your programme is open to a wider group of children, we expect the request for HAF funding to ONLY reflect the proportion of your programme that will be targeted at that group. For example, if 40% of your capacity will be for FSM children, 40% of the total costs will be eligible for HAF funding.

You will be expected to secure funding for non-eligible children through providing paid places or other sources of funding.

As the local authority is undertaking the central administration and coordination of the programme we expect that your administration costs are kept to a minimum, and focus on the delivery of the programme.

Providers will be able to draw on additional funding to support children with additional needs as part of their provision e.g. for additional staffing.  We are also able to help you source additional skilled staff to help you with supporting children with additional needs.

If you are not interested in providing a holiday programme but your building or venue is available through the summer, would you be interested in partnering with providers who would like access to a building?

If you are interested please email us: 

Overall, local authorities are expected to offer the equivalent of 6 weeks’ holiday provision to eligible children.

Over Easter:

  • we expect that all participating children should benefit from at least a week of face-to-face provision at Easter, which should be for a minimum of 4 days
  • for most children, each day at Easter should consist of at least 4 hours of provision, but the local authority should ensure that provision is tailored to need

Over summer:

  • for local authorities that have a summer holiday that spans 6 full calendar weeks, participating children should be offered at least 4 weeks of face-to-face provision, which cover a minimum of 16 days
  • for local authorities that have a summer holiday that is less than 6 full calendar weeks, participating children should be offered at least 3 weeks of face-to-face provision, which should cover a minimum of 12 days
  • if only 3 weeks are offered in summer, then these local authorities are expected to offer an additional week during a half-term holiday period (see below), so that their overall provision reaches 6 weeks across the year
  • for most children, each day during summer should consist of at least 4 hours of provision, but the local authority should ensure that provision is tailored to need

Over Christmas:

  • we expect that all participating children should benefit from a week of support which covers a minimum of 4 days
  • as in 2021, our preference is at least 4 days of face-to-face provision, however where this is not possible, it should consist of at least 2 days of face-to-face provision complemented by at least 2 days of HAF support which can be provided in the form of high-quality food hampers and activity packs
  • for most children, each day of face-to-face provision at Christmas should consist of at least 4 hours of provision but the local authority should ensure that provision is tailored to need

We know that many areas will continue to provide a HAF programme that runs for more hours, days and weeks than our minimum expectation, and we encourage them to continue to do this. The paragraphs above set out our minimum expectations, and we welcome those areas that are offering more than the minimum.

The DfE require us to utilise volunteers where possible. 

In partnership with One Walsall, we are now recruiting volunteers for the summer to help us:

  • pack food and activity packs
  • deliver food and activity packs to a family’s home or to collection locations
  • deliver fun and enriching activities to children across the Borough (DBS checks needed for this role)
  • promote uptake and engagement with the activities across the Borough (this may be through presentations at school assemblies, or by making telephone calls to remind parents of activities and how to sign up)

We will offer flexible volunteering opportunities.