Agenda item

Brighten The Day - Holiday Activities & Food Programme

Report of the Strategic Director of Housing, Environment and Healthy Communities


The Committee received a report and presentation on the delivery and impact of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2021 for their views and the announcement of the programme for 2022.


A video of the work undertaken was shown to the Committee.


DfE funding allocation of £850,000 for 2021 in Gateshead to fund Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) over the Easter, Summer and Christmas School Holidays for benefits-related Free School Meal (FSM) recipients and vulnerable children.


The holiday club places are available for the equivalent of at least 4 hours a day, 4 days a week for 4 weeks (Summer Only) and must include health meals (one healthy meal a day meeting the School Fund Standards guidance), enriching activities (provide fun activities with opportunities to develop skills and knowledge), physical activities (which meet the Physical Activity Guidelines), nutritional education (awareness of healthy eating and how to source, prepare and cook nutritious and low-cost food, signposting and referrals: (to other services and support).


In total there are 7200 children who are eligible for school meals, living in 4500 households across the Borough.  The programme also aims to help additional families who are struggling to make ends meet but do not access this benefit.


A HAF (Holiday Activities and Food Programme) Steering group meets regularly to plan and co-ordinate the Brighten the Day programme.  Representatives on the steering group include University of Northumbria, Education, Public Health, Children’s Social Care, Early Help, Libraries, Leisure, Catering Services and VCS organisations.


The Easter programme was delivered remotely due to Covid-19 restrictions in place.


The programme delivered the following:


·         1750 Cook n’ Eat food boxes delivered to FSM eligible families with fresh ingredients and recipes for 5 meals for a family of 4

·         1500 activity packs of crafts, books and sports equipment

·         Tyne and Wear TV on freeview broadcast content aimed at 3 different age groups for local children and young people over the Easter holiday period

·         A limited number of schools, community, church and sports organisations delivered small scale face to face holiday clubs, these were exclusive to know FSM eligible families connected to the venues and providers

·         A club at Cedars School for children with physical and learning difficulties was also run for the first time.


During May half term face to face delivery took place at a small number of venues using outdoor facilities, including Gateshead International Stadium with 560 places, delivered to 250 children attending 2,600 hours of activities in bubbles.  Half term delivery was not a requirement of the DfE grant.


The summer clubs in Gateshead were delivered in 52 venues; 23 community organisations, 12 schools (including 3 secondary and 2 special schools), 5 sports venues and 3 church organisations.  Over 21000 places were delivered across the 6 week period to approximately 1450 children per day.


Activities included Sports, Dance, Work Skills, Cooking, Cycling, Circus Skills, Bush Forestry, Open Spaces, Environmental and Educational Visits, as well as Cook N Eat, online activities, exercises and games.


The Council’s Catering Service complimented the food provision within community venues with hot food in 7 schools, healthy packed lunches at 11 venues without catering facilities and provided healthy snacks to the Active Kidz programme and our pop-up sports activities.


The expanded programme in 2021 included new venues – Cedars and Gibside special schools, new coaching providers – Gateshead Storm Rugby Club and new activities – Learn to Swim @ Gateshead Leisure Centre (for Y5 & Y6 children who missed out on school swimming provision).


The DfE arranged a virtual visit for the Permanent Secretary, Susan Acland-Hood on 24 August 2021.  The visit covered the departments priorities and policies and included a live stream of holiday clubs taking place.  DfE representatives were able to speak to children, teachers and providers to received instant live feedback.


The arrangements over the Christmas period have had to be scaled back for several reasons, including the guidance with regards to Covid.


However, there will still be some fun activities including ice skating, live reindeer and cook n eat boxes.  Several schools and community venues will be delivering projects over the Christmas holiday.


It has been confirmed that the Holiday Activities and Food Programme will continue, following the successful nationwide delivery of the 2021 programme.  The spending review announced over £200million per year for the continuation of the holiday activities and food programme, providing enriching activities and healthy meals for disadvantaged children during school holidays.


The Committee expressed its thanks to the team of officers working in Gateshead and commented that the film and programme was excellent.


RESOLVED -  That the information provided in the report, film and presentation be noted.



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