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Background

School holidays can be particular pressure points for some families because of increased costs (such as food and childcare) and reduced incomes (such as loss of a free school meal, reduced working hours etc.). There is a growing body of evidence of a holiday experience gap – with children from disadvantaged 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 are a response to 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 enrichment activities, as well as food, and when they involve children (and parents) in food preparation.

Holiday Food and Fun

The London Borough of Croydon and Family Action have received funding from the Department for Education (DfE) to co-ordinate free holiday food and activity provision during the 2019 summer holidays that will help children (particularly those on free school meals) and, where appropriate, their parents:

  • to eat more healthily over the summer holidays
  • to be more active over the summer holidays
  • to take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing and other skills
  • to be safe and not to be socially isolated
  • to have greater knowledge of health and nutrition; and
  • to be more engaged with school and other local services and to have greater knowledge and awareness of local free holiday provision.

Aims

The aims of this programme are to develop a more efficient and joined-up approach to free holiday provision for disadvantaged children in Croydon, and to ensure there is enough good quality free holiday provision to meet the demand from children eligible for free school meals (FSM) during the 2019 summer holidays.

  • Croydon is in the highest national 25% of children eligible for FSM – 19.8% (11,483)
  • 22% of children live in poverty (before housing) 31% (after housing) (End Poverty UK data).
  • 4th highest number of children living in poverty in London
  • 24% of Croydon residents are in low paid employment – London average 21%.
  • Average 8 score attainment for children on FSM is 37.6%, the 6th lowest score for FSM children across London.
  • 6 of the borough’s 220 LSOAs are among the country’s 10% most deprived; 47 are in the 20% most deprived.
  • 38% pupils at Year 6 are above a healthy weight.

‘Family Action and our partner organisation, Croydon Council, are delighted to be part of this important new programme. Together we have a clear and ambitious vision that this funding will provide a step-change in holiday provision in the borough. The programme will not only provide healthy food and activities to thousands of children over the summer holidays, but will also create a blueprint for local holiday activities and food provision for the future.’

(David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive of Family Action)

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