Thousands of children who are eligible for free school meals benefited from free fun activities during the summer holidays – thanks to the Happy Healthy Holidays Somerset (HHHS) project.
The initiative is part of the Government’s Holiday, Activities and Food programme which has been designed to help tackle inequalities in holiday hunger, physical inactivity, and social isolation for children eligible for free school meals.
Somerset County Council teamed up with Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) to deliver the programme across the county.
More than 80 venues across Somerset offered face-to-face activities during the summer holidays for children aged from 5 to 16, with activities on offer including sports, music workshops, kayaking, climbing, and much, much more.
A total of 5,852 individual children participated, with the majority attending for an average of six days, equating to more than 35,000 day places attended over the course of the summer holidays. Each activity day included four hours of fun activities as well as a nutritious meal and information about eating healthily.
Food played a significant part in the programme, and this was seen as beneficial for many families. The programme not only helped youngsters to enjoy healthy food during the school holidays, but also in many cases taught the youngsters new skills and they were able to take meals home to their families.
The programme proved to be a big hit with children and parents, with organisers receiving lots of positive feedback. One parent said: “My daughter had the best time learning new skills, and conquered her fears by taking part in the climbing activity. She is confident and wants to take part in more activities outside of school.”
The children’s reviews were equally glowing, with one young participant saying: “My mum made me come along but I didn’t want to. I’m glad I did as I had a wicked time!”, and another saying: “It’s made me a better person. I always used to not go outside, but now I go outside and I’ve lost a lot of weight.”
Providers delivered accessible activities such as music, science and fun food nutrition workshops in various locations over the holidays. There was also a virtual offer for those who were unable to attend face-to-face provision, with 231 children joining Fizz Pop Science and Go Sketch art activities. Nine Somerset attractions provided family days which also proved hugely popular.
Jane Knowles, SASP Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted at how well the Happy Healthy Holidays Somerset programme went over the summer. To have more than 5,800 children and young people benefit from this programme, learning new skills and taking part in activities is fantastic. We want to say a big thank you to all the providers who came forward and helped make this possible.
Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “The programme has given many of these children and young people the opportunity to try new activities and learn new skills that they might not have been able to try otherwise. The feedback suggests this programme made a significant difference to these children and their families during the Summer Holidays.”
Planning for the Winter HHHS programme to take place over the December school holidays is now underway. To find out more information and to apply for funding to supply holiday activities, please visit https://www.sasp.co.uk/holiday-activity-fund.