School holidays can be particular pressure points 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 disadvantaged families. In February 2021 the government confirmed the investment of over £26million of funding for local authorities in the West Midlands to provide Holiday Activity & Food Programmes, which are free to access for children and young people aged 5-16yrs and in receipt of free school meals. The focus of these programmes is to provide healthy food and enrichment activities to disadvantaged children and will cover the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.
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. Whilst there has been some direct delivery by Local Authorities, including grants made directly to households, the majority of the funding has been directed to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector groups and organisations. This is providing help, support and activities for vulnerable households across a range of issues from food and domestic fuel to digital inclusion and family activity packs.
The briefing provided an overview of the Department for Education Holiday Activity and Food Programme. A summary of the programme can be found here.
Dudley MBC, Coventry CC and Worcestershire CC shared their approach to delivery of this funding and how this sits within the wider support for disadvantaged households and vulnerable children and young people. Several WMFN members (NLCF, BBC Children in Need and Heart of England Community Foundation) share their funding programmes and priorities, and approach to supporting vulnerable families, children and young people with examples of grants provided. Links to presentations can be found below. A recording of the briefing can be found here.
- Vicky O’Keeffe, Holiday Activity And Food Programme, Department for Education
- WM Local Authorities: Lorna Holland, Coventry CC and Dianne Moffat Moat House Community Trust; Julie Simmonds, Dudley MBC and Nicki Burrows, Dudley CVS; Louise Butler, Worcestershire CC
- Independent Funders: Sue Brueton, NLCF: Melinda Connelly, BBC Children in Need and Tina Costello, Heart of England Community Foundation
A list of the West Midlands Local Authority website pages that provides information on the Holiday Activity and Food Programme can be found here.