FREE SUMMER ACTIVITY PROGRAMME AVAILABLE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN ESSEX
Parents and carers throughout the county may be eligible to benefit from a free holiday clubs programme for children and young people over the school summer break.
Working alongside trusted local delivery partners, Active Essex will be delivering the Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme across Essex. The programme will include face to face Essex ActivAte clubs, enabling children and young people to enjoy activities with friends and develop new skills, in a fun and safe environment.
On Monday 5th July Active Essex launched bookings on their new website, alongside Councillor Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships, Equality & Performance.
Councillor McKinlay has shared a video on social media talking about why the programme is so vital for many families across Essex and going on to show a sneak peek of what clubs will look like. She is joined by Active Essex Trustee, Anton Ferdinand, former professional football player and Active Essex Board Member, who emphasises the importance of activity on physical and mental wellbeing.
Backed by a nationwide investment of up to £220 million, the expanded programme successfully ran in all local areas at Easter, providing vital support to families. The local programme is due to launch in Essex on July 26th and is targeted at those who are eligible for benefits based free school meals. In addition, Essex County Council have extended the offer to open up a number of spaces within clubs to children and young people from working families who are struggling financially and require this additional support.
Essex ActivAte clubs will offer a variety of activities, providing children and young people with the opportunity to learn new things, make friends, and have fun! From team sports, martial arts and dance, to crafts, gardening and drama, there will be something for everyone. At Half Term some clubs even featured pony rides, rock climbing, and outdoor obstacle courses! Plus, every child will receive a tasty and nutritious meal.
Active Essex are ensuring that every club is inclusive; providing training for a SEND ambassador and Mental Wellbeing ambassador at each venue. Beyond this Active Essex also recognise that some children need additional support or a calmer environment, and as such they are running specialised SEND and Mental Wellbeing Hubs across the county! SEND hubs will feature specialist coaches, a higher ratio of staff to children and a variety of inclusive activities. Mental Wellbeing Hubs will feature shorter sessions, in smaller groups, with attention paid to coping mechanisms and a gentle approach to community engagement.
Alongside face to face clubs, Active Essex are also providing a fun-filled virtual offer, to help children and young people come up with inventive ways to have fun and get active at home throughout the school holidays, all without cost! These resources include downloadable activity packs and hours of content available on YouTube.
One parent, during Half Term, said: “This is probably the most amazing scheme that I have experienced. My children were so happy and it reduced my stress levels, which usually increase greatly over the school holidays. [...] We are on a tight budget and cannot normally afford to put the children into the expensive holiday clubs and they end up spending holidays in the house, not being very active.” - parent feedback during Half Term.
Anton Ferdinand, former professional football player and Active Essex Board Member, said: “It’s great that we’re targeting children as it’s giving them the foundation to a happy and healthier life. As people are aren’t born to stand about, we’re born to be active, and this programme encourages people to stay active mentally and physically”.
Councillor Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships, Equality & Performance, said: “[The programme] is so important particularly given all that’s gone on this past year. We know that children have obviously not been in school as much, they’ve not had the opportunity to socialise and to develop, and this [programme] means that during the long holidays they can come together and really engage in positive activities”.
Andrew Forsey, Chair of the HAF Alliance said: “The importance of an enriching holiday experience for all children cannot be underestimated. There is evidence that the best HAF programmes benefit children, parents and communities by enabling children to learn new skills, socialise with friends, and enjoy nutritious food in a safe environment, while supporting their return to school and alleviating parental stress. The HAF Alliance is sharing its expertise and best practice with local authorities to help them to develop and deliver excellent holiday programmes for their local communities.”
If your child(ren) are eligible and would benefit from this support, visit www.activeesse.org/essexactivate-summer for guidance on how to apply.
All clubs will feature physical and enrichment activities.
All children attending a club will receive a tasty nutritious meal.
Every child will also receive a fun-filled activity pack to use at home.
There will be a variety of activities at each club, including fun ways to learn about food.