Free holiday activities for thousands this summer


·1 min read

A record number of families are benefitting from their children being able to attend free holiday activities this summer. The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme is a government-funded initiative that provides activities and healthy food to pupils from Reception to Year 11. The programme is open to those who are eligible for pupil premium free school meals.

Holiday clubs across the country, including many Pembee customers, are part of the scheme this year. To be eligible for funding, the activity provision must include one hour of physical activity per day such as sport, a walk or free outdoor play. There is also a requirement to provide a free meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) but if the Holiday Club is not in a position to provide this, the local council is likely able help arrange this with a local food provider.

The activity provision must be inclusive for children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities. It must also be running for a minimum of four weeks over the summer.

Activities can usually be made available to children who are not eligible for the scheme whose parent pays for their place. However the council may ask for children who are part of the scheme to be given priority.Andy Francis, sport delivery manager at Ignite Sport in Oxford, told the Oxford Mail that the HAF programme is enabling children to fulfil their true potential through fully funded activities and food. He added: “This summer will be a challenging period for some families in Oxfordshire as the cost-of-living crisis squeezes people’s ability to fund increased food and childcare costs.”

Kelly, the Youth & Community Co-Ordinator at Make/Sense Theatre in Reading, added that the programme had helped them reach many new families in the community. This includes those who need support over the summer for young people with complex needs.

The exact funding model is set out by each council. In the case of Ealing Council in West London, they provide up to a day £20 per child if the Holiday Club is arranging a meal. They also provide support with the food offering, in which case they will fund up to £17.

Most councils provide a list of Holiday Clubs that are part of the HAF programme on their website to help parents find activities that are local to them. In most cases, parents are sent a HAF code by email or text message which they can use to book a child into a HAF activity. The Holiday Club will need this code to claim the funding for the council.

If you are interested in providing HAF programme activities during school holidays in the future, contact your local council who will be able to give you information on their application process. The HAF programme does currently include half-term weeks, so it will next run during the Christmas Holidays.