Free activities and meals for children as holiday scheme returns

Published: 25 November 2022

A smiling boy taking part in painting activities

There will be a huge range of activities provided across the city

Children will be able to access a packed schedule of activities over the winter break thanks to the Derby Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF). Derby City Council is working in partnership with Community Action Derby to provide free holiday club places during the school holidays.

The scheme offers activities and food to children aged 5 to 16 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals in Derby.

Youngsters can learn new skills while socialising and having fun with their friends. They will also be provided with a healthy meal and given the opportunity to learn about healthy food and nutrition through family food experiences and cookery sessions.

There are 22 providers offering a range of activities in all wards across the city, including three special educational needs and disability (SEND) specialists.

The holiday clubs will offer the chance to try new and enriching activities including gardening, animation, music production, IT and drama, as well as sports and physical activities like football, rugby, basketball, street dance, circus skills and self-defence. Trips will include visits to the pantomime, ice skating, the cinema, bowling and laser quest.

The winter programme welcomes some new organisations who are supporting the scheme for the first time. These include Evergreen Collective in Normanton, who work closely with schools to support young girls be more active, more healthy and develop their character in a safe and social setting. Evergreen Collective will provide a series of fun trips including escape rooms, bowling, trampolining, as well as healthy food and nutrition sessions.

Another new provider, Progressive Sports, will hold a multi-sport-based holiday camp. Children will be able to try more than 20 activities, including Zorbs, Glow Sports and Colour Runs, alongside dance, gymnastics and traditional sports.

The HAF scheme, which is funded by the Department for Education, aims to make the positive benefits of holiday clubs available to all those on benefits-related free school meals for at least four hours a day, four days a week for six school holiday weeks of the year.

During the summer holidays, the programme supported 2,274 children across all wards of the city, with activities including outdoor bushcraft, visits to the seaside and theatre, sports activities and equine therapy. Children who took part over the summer said they had gained a lot from the experience, while parents also gave positive feedback.

One young participant said:

Learning many different skills has helped me in my day-to-day life and definitely boosted my confidence and self-esteem. I loved the healthy food options and the staff and am very thankful for the opportunities I have received.

Another added:

I have made lots of new friends from different schools and worked with other people in teams which was challenging but rewarding. All the staff are amazing and make it a fun learning experience.

Councillor Evonne Williams, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills, said:

We’re thrilled to launch our latest HAF programme following the great success of the schemes during both the Easter and Summer holidays. We have a wonderful range of organisations providing the opportunity for children to take part in a rich variety of activities and enjoy a healthy meal.

I’d like to thank all our partners especially Community Action Derby and the council teams involved for pulling this programme together. We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all our children.

Kim Harper, CEO of Community Action Derby said:

We are delighted to be working in partnership with Derby City Council for the second year running to ensure that a wide and diverse range of youth and community providers have access to funding and support from the Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF).

This will enable them to provide a fantastic 4-day winter programme of holiday clubs for children in Derby who are eligible for free school meals, ensuring that they have access to fun, physical activities and healthy food over the school Christmas holidays.

Families can find out about all the activities and providers by visiting the Derby HAF webpage. Bookings can be made directly with the providers.

Derby City Council has recently partnered with Community Action Derby and Derby Homes to create a new online hub for assistance with the cost of living. If you are struggling with the cost of living, this new hub can offer much needed advice as well as the contact information for useful services.

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