Following on from its previous success the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme is set to continue throughout 2021 and 2022.

Over 4,500 children were supported under the HAF activities in Stoke-on-Trent during Easter and now cabinet members will vote on May 18 to accept and distribute a £1,478,690 Department of Education (DfE) grant awarded to the council to deliver the HAF programme 2021/22 and to secure a provider partner to co-ordinate the project.

The HAF programme recognises that school holidays can be pressure points for some families due to increased costs and reduced incomes. Some children are more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health and some children from lower-income families are less likely to access fun activities.

The key elements of the programme are: Healthy food, Enriching activities, Physical activities and Nutritional education.

Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people said: “Extending this highly successful programme will mean our children on free school meals in the city will be offered healthy meals and enriching activities over the Easter, summer and Christmas holiday periods during 2021/22. We will work with a community partner to deliver free holiday clubs that will benefit children locally, providing consistent and easily accessible activities for more than just breakfast or lunch.”

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education said: “The HAF programme targets resources at children and families in need of additional support during the school holidays, which supports our corporate priority to support vulnerable people in our communities to live their lives well. Children during school holidays will be safe and not isolated. In addition, 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. Our schools will play an important part in this programme extending their knowledge of pupils is valuable. They will support us to identify children and young benefit from additional support over the holiday periods to help address any shortfall in their progress experienced due to either time away from the classroom or for reasons of the irregular pattern of schooling over the last year.”

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