Successful winter holiday scheme provides free fun and support to Derby children

Published: 19 January 2023

The group of girls taking part in Evergreen Collective's 2022/3 Winter HAF programme

A group from Evergreen Collective enjoying the Winter HAF activities

Thousands of free meals were provided to children in Derby during the Winter Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme. The holiday club scheme, run by Derby City Council in partnership with Community Action Derby, offered 1,600 places to eligible children and young people across the city during the Christmas break.

The exciting programme of activities included sports, drama, music and equine therapy, as well as festive trips out to the cinema, bowling and pantomime. The free sessions allowed youngsters to experience different activities and learn new skills while socialising and having fun.

The winter programme saw 23 providers offer a range of activities in all wards across the city, including three special educational needs and disability (SEND) specialists. The organisations provided nutritious meals for the children as well as supporting families with online cooking sessions, plus advice and guidance on other support services.

Taking part in the programme for the first time was Evergreen Collective, a female-led charity which provided sessions for 30 Muslim girls aged between 11 and 16. The sessions gave girls the chance to take part in activities they may not normally access, including laser tag and escape rooms, as well as arts and crafts. They completed work around healthy eating as well as enjoying a nutritious meal each day, and were signposted towards additional support and mentoring opportunities.

Misba Khan, from Evergreen Collective, said:

We feel the HAF programme was a great success as the feedback was great and the engagement from the young girls was amazing. We received lots of messages asking if we would be doing another programme during the next holidays and if they could sign up to it earlier to ensure they received a space!

Another successful project was Active Hands, provided by Engineered Learning, which offered 60 places to young people aged 11 to 16. The project supports encourages social and economic mobility by giving young people skills and experience that employers are looking for, as well as supporting their health and wellbeing. 

Participants were taught to weld and create metal art in a real workshop environment, provided with healthy meals alongside nutrition and health sessions and offered one-to-one access to a qualified youth worker. They also enjoyed a bowling trip as a reward for their hard work.

Children learned welding on the Winter HAF programme's Active Hands programme provided by Engineered Learning

Children took part in metalwork during Engineered Learning's Winter HAF programme

The HAF scheme, which is funded by the Department for Education, aims to make the positive benefits of holiday clubs available to 5 to 16-year-olds 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.

Councillor Evonne Williams, Derby City Council cabinet member for Children, Young People and Skills, said:

We are delighted that so many families in the city took advantage of the Winter HAF programme. There was such a wide variety of activities for our young people to enjoy, giving them the chance to learn new skills as well as socialise and have fun. They were also provided with a healthy meal during the sessions.

Thank you to all the providers that took part in the scheme. We are looking forward to the next HAF programme during the Easter break.

Kim Harper, CEO for Community Action Derby said:

We were delighted to work in partnership with Derby City Council on the delivery of the winter HAF programme. The range of our diverse providers involved offered incredible provision throughout the 17 wards of Derby.

This programme will continue to provide a fantastic programme of holiday clubs for children who are eligible for free school meals, ensuring that they have access to fun, physical activities and healthy food over the school holidays.

Applications are now open for grants for the Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF) for the Easter holidays. Schools and local groups can apply to deliver activities as part of the Easter HAF programme by via the Community Action Derby website.

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