Free healthy meals and access to a range of activities are being made available to children this Easter.
More than twenty thousand Staffordshire children and young people, who are in receipt of benefits related to free school meals, will be eligible for the Easter holiday activities and food programme.
Available to eligible children aged between five and 16, it includes physical play, enriching activities, nutritional advice and a healthy meal. The programme is being organised by Staffordshire County Council and funded by the Department for Education.
Talking about the programme, Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “This is a really important programme for lots of Staffordshire families and we’re delighted to be able to offer it again over the Easter holidays. It means that children will get access to activities and a hot meal, helping keep them active and well fed over the Easter break.
“Last year, we ran the programme in the summer and winter with over 50,000 places available. This year we’re working with even more organisations, community groups and charities to offer more choice and availability across all of our districts. More unusual activities include fencing, archery and even clay pigeon shooting for young people. Plus the traditional favourites such as dodgeball, football, drama and craft activities are all available.
“I would urge parents to have a look at the criteria and if eligible, sign up when the application process opens.”
Many providers are now keen to return with even more activities and fun. ‘Koala Klubs’ is returning after a successful winter HAF programme and has extended their offer to include drop-in sessions for 12-16 year olds.
Neil Vanderwalt, Chief Executive Officer at Koala Klubs said: “We ran the programme during the Christmas holidays and it was great to get so many children back in the pool after COVID as restrictions meant they hadn’t been swimming for ages.
“We’ve extended our offer for Easter into more districts and even have a drop-in session for young people aged 12-16 to enjoy activities such as sport, roller-skating and art.”
Jon Davies, Operations Manager from Aspire Active Camps said: “We were honoured and grateful for the opportunity to create so many memorable experiences for the children of Staffordshire last year. We’re delighted to be collaborating again with the county council to provide even more amazing experiences this Easter.”
The programme has also widened its audience to cater for children with complex additional needs. This includes working with specialist providers such as Caudwell Children.
Lowri Bartrum, Associate Director for Children and Families at Caudwell Children, said: “This is such an important programme for disabled children and their families – we’re so pleased to be involved.”
Eligible children will be offered free activities from a minimum of two hours a day and up to four hours a day, four days a week. A healthy meal will also be provided on site to help with the cost of food over the holidays. Activities will run from 11 to 22 April.
All those eligible for the holiday activities and food programme will receive a letter via their school.
Registration opens at 4pm on Monday, 21 March and people can apply at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/holidayactivities