More than 10,000 school pupils in Stoke-on-Trent are set to benefit from in excess of £1 million of funding which will provide a raft of fun and educational activities and food throughout the summer holidays.
The Government’s Holiday Activities and Food fund (HAF) primarily supports children who receive free school meals. However, in Stoke-on-Trent, a unique partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Hubb Foundation will ensure many more children across the city are able to access this summer’s activities programme.
The summer programme is being delivered by both schools and in community venues. Sessions at community venues will be open to children and families. School-based sessions are being coordinated directly with school lead staff who have the best knowledge of the children in their care.
Available to children aged between five and 16 and primarily aimed at children who are eligible for free school meals, the sessions will include a range of physical activities, arts and crafts and exciting new experiences run by expert organisations including STEM activities.
A healthy meal will be also be provided for each attendee. Children will be offered free activities typically for four hours a day, for four days a week throughout the summer holiday period.
The HAF programme is a government initiative funded by the Department for Education that offers free places for children and young people across the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021. It recognises that school holidays can be pressure points for some families due to increased costs and reduced incomes.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education, said: “The Hubb Foundation is an excellent example of how a charity can play such an important role within the local community and we are delighted to be working in partnership with them on the school holiday programme. Our free holiday clubs over the summer will benefit thousands of children, providing easily accessible activities consistently and giving parents additional support.
“Recent research by Keele University and the city council has shown that this support during school holidays increases children’s chances of better academic achievement.”
Hubb Foundation Chair Gareth Higgins MBE said: “We are once again delighted to be working in partnership with the city council and using the expertise, knowledge and contacts we have built up across the city over the past four years to continue offering holiday activity provision and food for children and families in Stoke-on-Trent.”
Details about the summer HAF programme can be found at: www.thehubbfoundation.com/haf-2021
Meanwhile the Government Department for Work and Pensions officially announced last week that further funding is being provided to Thursday 30 September 2021 to support vulnerable families with support for food, energy and water bills. The city council are continuing to work in partnership with Wonde to issue supermarket vouchers to support families on free school meals and families where children have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place over the summer holiday period. Each family in the city who is eligible will get a £60 voucher per child.
Families do not need to apply for a voucher if their child is at a school in the city – schools will issue the vouchers directly for children who are eligible to receive them.
Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people said: “We’re really pleased to be able to provide food vouchers again to support families over the school holidays. It follows on from successful schemes during Christmas, February half-term and Easter school holidays.
“Children are our number one priority and this broader package of support will go a huge way to helping parents who need it most. As a corporate parent we are committed to achieving better outcomes for our children. School holidays can be a time for some where they feel isolated and unsafe and we want combat this. By offering food vouchers and running an exciting activities’ programme with The Hubb Foundation, the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the city will be improved.”
Details about the food voucher scheme can be found at www.stoke.gov.uk/foodvouchers