By Andy Herbert, Head of Development at Move More.
The recent Easter school holiday was the first time in 2023 that children and families were able to access a variety of activities through the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. HAF is funded by the Department for Education and coordinated locally by No Child Left Behind, the activities available across Cheltenham include physical activity camps, arts and crafts workshops and family day trips to local and national attractions. These activities are free and delivered by a variety of fantastic, local organisations who all recognise the importance of HAF as families attempt to tackle the current cost of living crisis.
Move More have worked with a variety of local partners to deliver physical activity camps as part of Cheltenham’s HAF provision since its inception in 2021 and through our work in local schools we are fully aware that most children cannot wait for the school holidays!
However, the school holidays also cause a huge amount of worry for many families who, during these periods, must find additional means to entertain and provide food for their children, which for those in receipt of Free School Meals would be provided by the school during term time. This is why HAF is so important – it provides access to free activities and a meal for those who attend, easing some of the financial pressures that families face during the holidays. Providers are also required to educate children on the importance of healthy lifestyles and positive behaviours as well distribute additional information and resources to the families of those who attend. Although there are valid arguments that HAF funded opportunities should be accessible every school holiday period rather than just Easter, Summer, and Winter, during delivery periods it’s positive impact should not be underestimated. It is a fantastic initiative to be involved with which supports our charitable objectives and vision of ‘Every Child Active’.
We are looking forward to continuing our HAF work with No Child Left Behind and Gloucestershire County Council through delivering fully funded physical activity camps and in our new role as Community Connector for the district. This role involves raising awareness of HAF, particularly in targeted communities and ensuring that opportunities and support is available and accessible to all that are eligible. To do this we will develop connections with local organisations and services to promote the local offer; identify barriers to attendance and ways to mitigate these.
If you would like further information on the Holiday Activities and Food programme across Cheltenham and the support available from Move More, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.