WCC is organising a local Holiday Scheme to ensure that food & activities are made available over the Easter holidays for schoolchildren who are entitled to benefits-related free school meals
The local Holiday Activities and Food scheme is part of the Government’s £220m programme for 2021 which will roll-out nationwide in all 151 English local authority areas. It aims to offer valuable support to families on lower incomes, through access to a programme of activities alongside healthy meals.
Government grant funding will cover coordination and provision of free holiday places for six weeks a year: one week at Easter, four weeks in the summer and one week at Christmas – all in 2021. The national policy aims that there should be free holiday clubs available for school-aged children eligible for benefits-related Free School Meals (FSM).
County Council officers are finalising with providers an interesting programme of inclusive activities which can be accessed through the Family Information Service website. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, activities will be a blended offer of both face-to-face and remote activities such as food parcels and activity packs being delivered to homes. With part of the programme focussing on nutrition education, food packages will come with recipes enabling children and young people, families and carers, to learn about nutritious food and get involved in the preparation of healthy meals.
The focus of activities in future holiday programmes will shift towards outdoor and group pursuits when the easing of restrictions allows but the County Council is keen to bring children into contact with others and tackle social isolation that has been experienced through the pandemic and can often be felt more keenly in holidays.
Warwickshire County Council was allocated a total of £1.6M for the year and has been successful in applying for the first instalment of funding for the programme at Easter.
Cllr Colin Hayfield, portfolio holder for education and learning at Warwickshire County Council said:
“I’m so pleased to see that this scheme will be up and running for the holidays. Officers are working at pace to make sure that it will offer a variety of activities to engage and stimulate the children and young people and that the food parcels are of a good quality.”
“Warwickshire County Council recently provided over 3,000 laptops and other devices for some of the county’s most vulnerable children and young people, to ensure that they had access to digital resources to support their learning. Of course, they will also come into their own around this scheme too, enabling the children to participate.”
“We will look at increasing the offer later in the year and include a range of outdoor activities when the restrictions on social contact are eased. In the meantime, this is a timely and necessary step to make sure that support and companionship are still available in the holiday period to some of our children who need it most.”
Details of the activities on offer will be coming on stream when they are confirmed and can be found at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fis.
Support is also being provided through the Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme to all children who are eligible for free school meals. Vouchers will be sent to all eligible families.