Over £1m of funding set to be granted to continue the children’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme 2022/23

Published: Thursday, 24th March 2022

A hugely popular scheme that has supported thousands of children across the city with healthy food and fun activities during school holidays is set to continue throughout 2022 and 2023.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet is recommended to extend the Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), when it meets next Tuesday (29 March).

Over 40,000 opportunities were generated for children and young people during the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays and now cabinet members will vote on March 29 to accept and distribute a £1,483,380 Department of Education (DfE) grant awarded to the council to deliver the HAF programme 2022/23 and for the following two years.

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
  • Nutritional education
  • Signposting and referrals
  • Policies and procedures

Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people said: “Despite the sustained challenges presented by the pandemic, our HAF programme with the Hubb Foundation co-ordinating the project, proved highly successful during 2021. Over 4,000 school aged pupils took part in our Summer programme, accessing between them around 40,000 individual opportunities – and free meals were provided at each of these. Many local businesses supported the programme, including Port Vale FC, Stoke City FC, Alton Towers, Water World and Chester Zoo.

“Our model received praise nationally, we have ambition plans and now want to build on this success and improve our HAF offer so our young people benefit further. We want to develop stronger relationships to broader family support and adult skills development so the whole family can benefit.”

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education said: “The HAF program not only targets resources at children and families in need of additional support during the school holidays, but is open to all families who want to take part. This supports one of our key corporate priorities to enable all of our residents to live their lives well. â€‹research has shown that the HAF program particularly enables children from our most vulnerable families to continue to maintain the rate of their educational progress in line with their peers and allows them to be achieve the very best that they can.

“Our schools will once again play an important part in this programme. In 2021 we had high level of participation and support from schools – 51 per cent of primary schools and 86 per cent of secondary schools operated a programme. As part of our 2022 programme we want to be more inclusive and work with our schools so that more children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) benefit from the programme.”

The report to cabinet also recommends starting the procurement process to secure a provider partner to co-ordinate the project for 2022 until 2024, this will open week commencing April 11 and will be open for providers to tender for 6 weeks.