As schools across North Yorkshire break up for the Easter holidays, a new programme is helping to keep children and young people active, creative and connected.

In addition to food vouchers, families on low incomes in North Yorkshire will also receive FEAST holiday activity packs.

FEAST is a partnership between us, North Yorkshire Sport, North Yorkshire Youth and Rural Arts working as North Yorkshire Together.

There are two versions of the packs; one for primary-aged children and another for secondary school age. Both contain items for fun activities and creative projects, as well as an activity booklet, including recipes for affordable, healthy meals which families can make together.

The FEAST packs are funded from the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme in response to the increased pressure school holidays can bring to many families due to the increased cost of food and childcare.  

Anyone can access the activity booklet resources.

David Watson, Chief Executive at North Yorkshire Sport said: “North Yorkshire Sport are delighted to be part of the FEAST programme. Physical activity is a vital part of a young person’s development, supporting not only their physical, but also their mental health and this programme aims to make accessing that activity easier.

“At North Yorkshire Sport we are committed to reducing the opportunity gap, trying to make sure that where you live or what your economic circumstances are do not limit your opportunity to take part. FEAST will put activity, not only at the heart of communities where it is needed most during the school holidays but also, because the barrier of cost is removed, ensure that it is accessible to all.

“As a result of the pandemic, young people have missed the opportunity to socialise, compete and play with their peers. Sport and physical activity in general, and FEAST in particular, can help them ‘catch up’ on this most vital part of their development.”

David Sharp, Chief Executive at North Yorkshire Youth, added: “We’re very proud to be part of the FEAST initiative, supporting young people is our bag and as such packing the 11,000 plus activity packs just seemed an ideal fit for us. The Carlton Lodge Activity Centre team have done a phenomenal job putting them together in just under two weeks and we hope the young people have fun doing the activities and use the equipment.”

Max May, Director and CEO at Rural Arts, said: “We’re thrilled to continue our work with North Yorkshire County Council and North Yorkshire Together partners on FEAST. Creativity is an important part of young people’s development, and access to it is a fundamental human right. We’re glad to be part of a team making sure that over 11,000 young people across North Yorkshire receive free creative resources to support and engage them over the Easter break. We’re also thrilled to provide free access to our extensive range of online creative workshops on our North Yorkshire Together website.

“As FEAST progresses, we’re looking forward to supporting grassroots community groups and creative practitioners across the county to design activities for young people to engage in face-to-face. As North Yorkshire’s only Arts Council England annually funded organisation to works across all artistic disciplines and all North Yorkshire districts, we‘re uniquely placed to develop the creative capacity and potential of groups and individuals across North Yorkshire.”

Marie-Ann Jackson, Head of the Strong Communities team at the County Council, said: “The FEAST programme is the perfect example of strong partnership working. The packs are already proving to be a huge hit and that’s down to the combined passion and enthusiasm of the three charities involved working alongside our own county council colleagues. I’d also like to thank Yorwaste for their generous donation of a skip for all of the cardboard packing 11,000 bags generated. Team North Yorkshire at its finest.”

Find out more about FEAST.

FEAST is in addition to food vouchers being given to families on low incomes in North Yorkshire this Easter.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme will provide food voucher payments to ensure parents and carers on low incomes – or struggling financially due to the pandemic – can continue to provide the essentials. The vouchers, worth £15 per child per week plus an additional one-off voucher of up to £20, will help meet the increased cost of food and other household bills for families during the school holidays.

The supermarket vouchers were first distributed to struggling families in North Yorkshire over the Christmas and February half-term holidays, which saw 34,000 vouchers distributed to parents and carers at schools, academies, early years settings and post-16 colleges. The County Council also provided vouchers to care leavers.

Richard Linsley, Headteacher of Alverton Community Primary School in Northallerton, said: “We know the food vouchers have really helped families balance their budgets over the holidays during the difficult times brought about by the pandemic. So we’re delighted to be able to offer the vouchers again.

“The children will be delighted with their activity packs. The ideas for activities will be really useful over this lockdown holiday and they contain plenty of resources to keep children active and engaged.”

Cllr Patrick Mulligan, Member for Education and Skills, said: “Distributing the supermarket vouchers and activity packs has been a true team effort.

“We are enormously grateful to our schools, colleges and nurseries for their continued help in distributing food vouchers to children in receipt of free school meals and other families who may have found themselves newly struggling as a result of the pandemic.

“We have heard from schools how the vouchers have helped families to balance their budgets and make independent choices, especially where their regular income or business has been severely impacted by the pandemic, or they have not been able to work.”