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Thousands of eligible Walsall children benefit from a successful Holiday Activities programme over the summer

Thousands of eligible Walsall children benefit from a successful Holiday Activities programme over the summer
Published on 10 September 2021 Print

Children and Young people have been able to enjoy a range of activities and healthy food options over the summer due to the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) Programme.

The Government funded HAF programme means that, over the summer, Walsall Council has provided a wide range of opportunities for children and young people eligible for HAF because they qualify for free school meals, enabling them to engage in a summer offer that is within three miles of where they live and inclusive and non-stigmatising. Walsall Council was awarded £1.8m from Department for Education funding to deliver the programme in 2021.

Via the HAF programme, children and young people are able to access:

•      A choice of 140 different holiday face-to-face provision (a holiday club) providing a range of activities throughout the day for children to engage with, mainly targeted at primary school children (aged 5 to 11) for at least four hours, four days a week per child, for four weeks in the summer.

•      36 different courses to provide children with specific skills including, dance, music, swimming, sports coaching, youth work training, fishing and mentoring 

•      117 different  pick and mix offers targeted at young people aged 13+  providing a daily offer of activities they can engage with

•      Provision that is targeted at communities with high need and provided by local providers to ensure we develop relationships and opportunities that sustain beyond the holiday period

•      Complimentary weekend recipe boxes and fake’ away boxes so families can cook fresh and nutritious food together

Vicky Ford MP, Minister for Children and Families recently visited two Walsall Community Associations commissioned to be providers of Walsall Council’s Holiday Activities Fund (HAF) summer programme and enjoyed a morning with children participating in the programme.

During her visit to Walsall, the Minister spent time at the Bloxwich Community Partnership holiday club with children who were busy bees enjoying arts and crafts focussed on healthy eating as well as a range of sports activities and team games. Following that, the Minister moved on to Frank F Harrison Community Association’s ACE Summer Project where the children were engaged in a wide range of activities including sports, arts and crafts, cooking, team games, challenges, music, dance, hair and beauty, movie screening, gaming consoles, pool, table tennis and table football.

Councillor Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s said:

“We are proud to have worked with over 50 providers including schools, local voluntary and community organisations and childcare providers to deliver this programme to benefit eligible families in the borough.

“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to lead the Minister around during her visit, where she saw some of the fantastic work being undertaken across Walsall to keep our children and young people active, entertained and well-fed during the summer holidays. We all appreciated her taking time out of her busy schedule to come and see for herself what we’re doing in Walsall.

“To date we have 3000 children involved in the summer HAF programme engaging with 50 providers in 52 locations across the borough.

“The feedback from parents and carers is really positive and will inform how we can further improve our offer for the Christmas holidays.”

Councillor Chris Towe, Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills said:

“I’ve been to visit over ten of our other HAF providers over the last few weeks and have been delighted to see how much the children and young people have enjoyed the experience.

“We know from reports we see from the team that thousands of Walsall children and families have benefited, but seeing for ourselves the children running about and enjoying themselves has really brought home how valuable this programme is.”

The HAF team has had some really positive feedback from families that have benefitted from the programme as follows:

“We have all felt happier and the kids have been more than satisfied with so many different activities that have been arranged for them.”

“My children have really enjoyed attending your sessions and have had really positive things about the activities and the staff, this has been the first year that we have attended and I would recommend to others with children with similar needs and backgrounds, Thank you to all of you who have assisted from helping me register and adding my children on to groups to the fantastic staff you have running the sessions they are a credit.”

“My son (6) really enjoyed being chef and reading out the instructions for me to make this dish. He decided garlic and coriander naan bread would go well with this dish. Enjoyed more than I expected, very flavourful and filling. We both enjoyed it and will be making it again. Thanks a lot for inspiring kids to cook healthy.”

Walsall Right for Children’s HAF team is in the process of planning activities and events for the Christmas Holiday programme and all eligible families will receive letter in November 2021. If any parent or carer has a child or children that would be eligible for the scheme they can sign up for news at the following link:  https://go.walsall.gov.uk/forms/Sign-up-for-Christmas-news

~ENDS~

Notes to Editor

·         Information on the Walsall HAF programme https://go.walsall.gov.uk/children_and_young_people/haf_signup

·         The programme is for children and young people aged 5—16 years who are eligible for free school meals. Children and young people and their families are able to access free activities and healthy recipe boxes during the Easter, summer and Christmas Holidays. 

·         On 8 November 2020, the government announced that the holiday activities and food programme will be expanded across the whole of England in 2021. The programme has provided healthy food and enriching activities to children since 2018.

·         Find out more about the national pilot programme and its impact on gov.uk.

·         The Department for Education's (DfE) Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) has provided funding for the scheme.

·         Walsall Right for Children, the service coordinating the programme, can be contacted by email at WR4C@walsall.gov.uk