Thousands of Staffordshire families are set to benefit from extra support during the Christmas school holidays.
Staffordshire County Council’s Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme is available to eligible children aged between five and sixteen on benefits related free school meals.
The programme includes physical play, fun activities, nutritional advice and a healthy hot meal where possible. Funding is provided by the Department for Education.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “With food prices and the cost of living rising, this programme will be crucial for many families over the Christmas holidays.
“The programme will give children access to a wide variety of activities and a hot meal, helping keep them well-fed and active over the school break. Since the scheme launched in summer 2021, more than 117,000 free places have been made available with a further 12,700 places being made available this Christmas.
“There’s lots of fun activities on offer, including paintballing, which is one of the newer activities. I would urge eligible parents to make sure they are registered.”
Staffordshire County Council continues to work with charities, community groups, schools, and other organisations to deliver the programme. Many providers are now keen to return with even more activities and fun.
Bal Singh, Operations and Programmes Manager for Achieving Goalz and Dreams said: “We aim to make all our sessions as fun, interactive and engaging as possible.
“We’re back with all the favourites such as dodgeball, football, inflatable games, along with more unusual activities like trips out to go paintballing and go karting. We are happy if the children are happy and I’d urge people to come and join us for a great Christmas experience.“
One Staffordshire parent spoke about the programme and said: “My girls have had an amazing time attending the HAF scheme. They have taken part in arts and crafts and lots of sporting activities. They particularly loved the trips out to Ninja Warrior, Paintballing, Kick Golf and the party meal on the last day. They have made new friends and it really has helped to improve their confidence in so many ways.”
HAF activities will start on Monday 19 December and run until 30th December.
All those eligible for the programme will receive a letter via their school. Any eligible children who have not received a letter by 25th November should contact their school in the first instance, while all others should go to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/holidayactivities for more information. Registration opens at 4pm on Thursday 1 December.
Families worried about cost of living pressures can also get advice and support at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/heretohelp