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.
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:
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.
‘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)