Activities from “Veg Patch Parties” to drama, sports sessions, cookery and art will be on offer to children in North Yorkshire this summer.
A diverse holiday club programme will be rolled out across the County during the summer holidays. Organisations will be providing a mixture of activities which help children stay healthy, active, socially connected, develop new skills and try new experiences.
Sessions include fun Summer sports camps, sessions on growing and cooking vegetables with Embers Outdoor Learning and music, library activities, art, dance and drama sessions with Flowergate Hall arts centres in Whitby.
Activities are open to all children and young people in North Yorkshire, but will be free to children who would normally receive benefits-related free school meals during term time and will include a hot meal or packed lunch each day. Eligible families will also get also a booklet with ideas and inspiration for holiday activities.
There will also be activities for families of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), which will include some day trips to North Yorkshire venues and attractions.
Funding for the scheme has come from the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme. The County Council has 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.
Organisations still interested in providing activities to children over summer can apply for grant funding up until July 26.
One of those organisations to have already signed up is The Barn in Tadcaster. The group will be providing arts and crafts activities, storytelling, cooking skills, outdoor activities and local flora and fauna workshops with Project: Wild Community Interest Company. The holiday club will also cater for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
The Barn set up youth groups and after-school clubs for young people in the district as the county went into lockdown and schools closed, leaving young people particularly isolated, with little opportunity for social contact.
The Barn’s Executive Officer, David Gluck said: “We ran a holiday club for young people last summer and found it was incredibly successful; there was a huge demand for something like this. Since then we have provided a holiday club during every school holidays.
“We were concerned that, as this summer approached, we would have to introduce a charge to use the holiday club, then the FEAST project came along and gave us the funding to make it free to children on free school meals.
“They get to have a good time throughout the summer holiday; they’re still socialising, taking part in activities, learning and having fun and are safe and fed while they’re here.
“A lot of the children coming here will start off with some trepidation about coming into a new environment, but by the end of the holiday we see how much more confident they are and ready to socialise again.”
Cllr Patrick Mulligan, Member for Education and Skills said: “The holiday activities provide an opportunity for children to learn new skills, socialise with friends, and enjoy nutritious food in a safe environment. At the same time it supports their return to school later in the year and alleviates some of the pressures we know families experience.
“The activities are open to everyone and free to those who receive benefits-related free school meals. We would encourage families to make the most of the holiday sessions this summer and if they’re not able to attend in person there are lots of things to enjoy online too.”
There is also food voucher help available for families in North Yorkshire who are likely to struggle with the additional cost of food and other essentials over the summer holidays.
The Covid Local Support Grant provides food voucher payments to parents and carers in receipt of free school meals, or other families impacted financially by the pandemic.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has awarded North Yorkshire County Council grant funding of £1,350,900, which it has allocated to schools and academies and early years providers. Care leavers will also be eligible for food vouchers.
The funding is primarily for children in receipt of free school meals, to ensure they continue to have access to food while schools are closed. Schools will have discretion to provide some vouchers to other families they have identified as being unable to cover the cost of essentials.
The vouchers amount to £75 to cover the length of the summer holiday.
For ideas to keep children active and creative over the summer holidays, information is available to all families by visiting The North Yorkshire Together website, where there are ideas and video tutorials, as well as details of activities in your area happening across the county. Find more information about FEAST.