Thousands of Staffordshire school children will receive free hot meals and access to a range of activities over the Christmas holidays.
More than 20,000 children and young people who are in receipt of benefits related to free school meals, will be eligible for the winter holiday activities and food programme being organised by Staffordshire County Council.
Available to eligible children aged between five and sixteen, it includes physical play, enriching activities, nutritional advice and a hot healthy meal, where possible. The programme is funded by the Department for Education.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “This is a really important programme for lots of families and we’re delighted to be able to offer it again over the Christmas holidays. It means that children will get access to a wide variety of activities and a hot meal, helping keep them well-fed and active over the school break.
“We also ran a really successful programme over the summer holidays, with our providers running some fantastic activities and making sure thousands of children got access to healthy meals. I would urge parents/carers to have a look at the criteria and if eligible, contact their child’s school for a registration code before registration opens on 29 November.”
Staffordshire County Council is working with charities, community groups, schools and other organisations to deliver the programme. Many providers are now keen to return with even more activities and fun.
Eddie Ray, Founder and MD of Progressive Sports said: “We loved delivering the summer programme across the districts of Staffordshire. It’s great to see the children so engaged and it’s humbling to know that they really appreciate the meals and activities on offer.
“For the winter, we’ve kept the traditional favourites such as dodgeball, football, tag rugby, plus more unusual activities including fencing and archery. We’ve also launched our new outdoor action and adventure camp, where the children can learn bushcraft skills including shelter building, team building activities and learning about the world they live in. The camps aim to build children's confidence, self-esteem, resilience and much more.”
Eligible children will be offered free activities for a minimum of two hours a day, for four days a week of the Christmas holidays. A hot healthy meal will be provided on site, where possible, to help with the cost of food over the holidays.
The programme can be accessed through a registration system which will open at 7pm on 29 November. Activities will start on 20 December and run until 31 December.
All those eligible for the holiday activities and food programme will receive a letter via their school. Any eligible children who have not received a letter by 26 November should contact their school in the first instance, while all others should go to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/holidayactivities for more information or contact their local Family Hub.