It can be tough keeping kids fed and entertained when we’re on a tight budget – but there’s help out there
The summer holidays are good news for our kids, but not so good when we have to deal with school holiday expense.
If we live in England though, there’s help from the government through the Holiday Activities and Food Programme.
It’s a scheme that provides free clubs for kids (primary and secondary school age) during the holidays. The clubs are run by local councils or other organisations, and kids take part in activities and get a nutritious meal.
To be eligible, our kids usually need to be receiving free school meals. However, there’s sometimes some space for other children to take part, though not always for free. If we’re interested we should contact our council and ask if the Holiday Activity and Food Programme is operating in our area.
Food and fun
The clubs can offer arts, sports, drama and music activities and sometimes day trips. They also have to provide a free healthy meal and some physical activity.
Organisers said children who took part in the scheme last summer said it made them more active. It also helped them to mix more with other kids. More than three quarters said it boosted their confidence.
In Scotland, there’s a similar scheme to help with school holiday expense. It’s not open to all low-income families yet although it should be by summer 2023. But it’s accessed in a similar way so if we’re interested we should contact our council.
It’s for children aged five to 14, and should provide activities and a healthy meal.
In Wales it’s called the Food and Fun programme. We can email Foodandfun@wlga.gov.uk to find out if our kids can take part.
For kids in Wales who get free school meals, there’s also help with school holiday expense.
It’s usually given in the form of a supermarket voucher, and if our kids get free school meals we shouldn’t have to apply. But if we don’t receive it, or our kids don’t get free school meals but we’re struggling with food costs over the holidays, we should contact our council to see if we can get a voucher.
There are also food grants available if we’re in Northern Ireland. If our child gets free school meals we can have support worth £13.50 per week per child throughout July and August.