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Parents urged to sign-up children for extended holiday activities and food programme

16 Jun 2021
A new film featuring Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford has been launched calling on parents to sign up their children to the Government’s expanded Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF).

The film features a holiday club at CATCH Leeds, Mandeville Primary in London and Button Lane in Manchester, Marcus Rashford’s former primary school.

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “Thousands of young people will continue to benefit from the expanded Holiday Activities and Food programme, which the Government is expanding across the whole country with investment of up to £220m.

“This summer it will continue to provide nutritious food, as well as activities like arts and crafts, sport, and music, to the children who would benefit the most – especially those eligible for free school meals.

“I’m grateful for the support of Henry Dimbleby, Marcus Rashford and the Food Foundation as champions for the programme and I hope many others follow their lead. I urge parents and families to have a look at what’s on in their area for the summer holidays.

“Through the programme, the Government also wants children to be more active during the school holidays and not become socially isolated.

“School holidays can be a particularly difficult time for some families due to increased food and childcare costs and reduced incomes. It can mean that families struggle to provide food and activities for children.

“Families who take part in the programme will also be able to develop their understanding of nutrition and food budgeting by having access to information and support.

“The programme helps ensure that children have access to healthy food and enriching activities throughout the school holidays.”

The HAF programme has been supporting children and families in the school holidays since 2018 and was expanded in light of the pandemic last year.

Funded by the Government, the DfE says that this year up to £220m is available to councils across the country to run the programmes locally through holiday clubs, beginning at Easter and will continue through summer and Christmas in 2021.

Some councils are coordinating the clubs themselves, others are opting to work with other organisations to provide clubs on their behalf, all offering activities such as arts, sports, drama, and music.

Activities on offer can also include trips and other valuable learning experiences. Clubs must also provide healthy free meals, nutritional education, and physical activities on a daily basis.

Adds Vicky Ford: “This programme builds on our previous successful pilots: In 2020, it operated across 17 local authorities, supporting around 50,000 children.

“HAF is available for children who receive benefits-related free school meals. Councils are also encouraged to make the holiday clubs available to any children not eligible for and in receipt of free school meals, who can pay to attend.”

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