Fun activities and healthy food on offer for children at holiday clubs this Christmas

This story was published 13 December 2021

A range of Christmas holiday clubs have been organised across North Yorkshire to enable children to learn new skills, socialise and access healthy food.

Child on climbing wall

The FEASTive programme will see activity sessions and event days taking place in each North Yorkshire district over the holiday season. They include a stop-motion animation workshop in Knaresborough where children can learn how to make a short, festive film; as well as workshops where children can learn how to make their own Christmas dinner and Christmas gifts. Also running are craft workshops, a mountain bike event at Sutton Bank, sports activities, dance workshops, woodland crafts and many more activities.

We have received funding to co-ordinate healthy holiday activities for children from the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme. The funding recognises that school holidays can put additional pressures on family finances due to increased food and childcare costs and aims to provide children with activities which help them stay healthy, active and socially connected and allow them to develop new skills.

The sessions are open to all children and young people in North Yorkshire, but are free to those who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals. The sessions all include a free hot meal or packed lunch.The clubs will all be held with Covid-19 safety measures in place which will be appropriate for the different activity sessions and venues.

Eligible families have received an information pack, along with a booklet with ideas for activities and things to do over the school holidays.

We commissioned North Yorkshire Together, a partnership between Rural Arts, North Yorkshire Sport and North Yorkshire Youth, to run the programme in the county under the banner of FEAST North Yorkshire. FEAST stands for ‘food, entertainment, arts and sport together’.

One of the organisations taking part is Flash Company Arts, who will be running Flowergate Winter Feast Holiday Scheme from Flowergate Hall Community Arts Centre in Whitby.

In the four days leading up to Christmas, the holiday club will be making Christmas gifts, cards and decorations, playing games, singing carols, culminating in a Christmas party on the Thursday. After Christmas there will be more creative activities, a large collection of remote control cars to play with, games and a chance to make New Year’s resolutions. There will also be breakfast, lunch and snacks provided.

Artistic director and programme manager Rebecca Denniff said: “We have a team of arts practitioners who have so many different skills. If a child comes along and says they want to build a sculpture out of cardboard or learn the guitar, we can do that with them. 

“It’s all about youth voice and being child-led. This is their holiday and a chance for them to just enjoy themselves.

“With everything that’s going on around the pandemic, we want the children to have an opportunity to relax and spend some time together and so we’ve built in time for them to relax and hang out together.

“We want to support their emotional wellbeing and give them a chance to feel safe and relaxed and just enjoy themselves.”

The FEAST North Yorkshire holiday scheme was first launched earlier this year, over the summer holidays, when 15,909 holiday clubs places were provided in the county.

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills said: “We know the pandemic has presented many mental, physical and financial difficulties for families, children and young people. To be able to offer children healthy meals, fun activities and chances to socialise and learn new skills is vitally important. We would like to thank all the providers who have signed up to FEAST North Yorkshire and to North Yorkshire Together for running the scheme.

“We received a lot of positive feedback from families who took part in the scheme over summer and know schemes like this can make a great difference to children and their families.”

The North Yorkshire Together website contains online resources and inspiration for activities all families can enjoy over the holidays, as well as a directory of holiday clubs taking place in the county.