When you think of the school holidays you think of fun and a time for children to recharge, ready to start school with renewed energy, but for many families on a low income this is not the reality.
There are approximately 170 non-school days a year where children cannot access Free School Meals, putting a lot of financial pressure on families that rely on this. Many families also suffer with social isolation during the school holidays, as they cannot afford to do activities, take their children on days out, or invite their friends over, meaning children end up spending most of their holiday indoors.
Our research shows that a staggering 78% of households helped by foodbanks had skipped meals or even gone days without eating in the past 12 months. The is likely to be most acute during times when free school meals are not available.
Our Holiday Clubs project provides a good practice operating manual, as well as online training and resources to foodbanks within our network, equipping them to run Holiday Clubs in their community, providing food, fun activities and support to families that need the extra support during the school holidays.
What does a Holiday Club consist of?
They offer a safe haven that provides meals (breakfast & lunch), as well as a variety of fun activities and learning opportunities to families. These include dance, arts and crafts, football and circus workshops.
A Holiday Club gives children and families the chance to have fun with each other, make new friends and develop socially, while recognising that they are not the only family finding it difficult during the holidays. These clubs not only help to alleviate hunger, but also help to reduce feelings of isolation, raise children’s aspirations and reduce the stress felt by working parents on limited budgets.
Our research showed that 85% of parents said they made a difference to what they do, with one family saying that Holiday Clubs had: “Given us something to do as we don’t get out much”. Our researched also showed that 77% of parents said Holiday Clubs had an impact on their family with one parent mentioning: “I didn’t have to spend my rent money to keep them [children] entertained”.
Our research also discovered that 76% of parents believed that our Holiday Clubs made a difference to what they eat: “I didn’t have to worry about those 2 meals a week”. Our research also measured the positive impact Holiday Clubs had on children, with 97% of the children saying that they liked having Mum/Dad or another adult with them and 70% said they learnt something new during their time there.
Progress so far
The Trussell Trust’s Holiday Clubs project allows foodbanks to develop a Holiday Club without starting from scratch. We received funding from The Innocent Foundation to set up this Holiday Clubs project. 15 clubs ran in the Summer 2016 pilot, supporting 193 families, 206 adults and 422 children. Since then, 53 more clubs have run and a total of 257 sessions have been held, with over 11,000 meals served. 767 families have participated, supporting 813 adults and 1732 children.
“Someone told me about the club and I came with my two children. The staff were lovely and they made sure that all the children were enjoying themselves. My children couldn’t wait to get to the club. They wake up early and ask me to take them to the club. We came every day. My children are happy.”