An introduction to HAF

The Department for Education funds the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. It has been delivered in Brighton & Hove since 2021. 

During the school Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays, HAF provides free enriching activities and a meal. HAF is for school-aged children and young people in Reception to Year 11, who receive benefits-related free school meals. 

Watch our film from a Brighton Table Tennis Club HAF holiday camp to get an idea of what HAF has to offer.  

Aims of the programme 

There are many benefits for children who attend the HAF programme including: 

  • receiving healthy and nutritious meals 
  • maintaining a healthy level of physical activity 
  • being happy, having fun and meeting new friends 
  • developing a greater understanding of food, nutrition, and other health-related issues 
  • taking part in fun and engaging activities that support their development 
  • feeling safe and secure 
  • getting access to the right support services 
  • returning to school feeling engaged and ready to learn

Families also benefit when HAF providers include their needs. They do this when they plan and deliver their programme through: 

  • providing opportunities to get involved in cookery classes 
  • signposting them to other sources of information and support, like health services or employment and education opportunities

Brighton & Hove HAF 2022 programme in numbers

Number of HAF providers: 33 

Number of HAF programmes: 113 

Number of HAF places (sessions) attended: 14,230 

Number of unique participants who: 

  • were receiving benefits-related free school meals: 1,572 
  • attended under discretionary criteria: 203 
  • reported special educational needs or disabilities: 238 (13%) 

Percentage of school-aged children receiving benefits-related free school meals who attended HAF: 19.9% 

Proportion of primary aged HAF participants: 81.7% 

Proportion of secondary aged HAF participants: 18.3% 

The number of people that attended HAF in each holiday period

The increase in the total number of unique HAF participants who attended HAF from Easter 2021 through to Easter 2023.

Easter 2021: 263

Summer 2021: 576 

Winter 2021: 336

Easter 2022: 545

Summer 2022: 1084

Winter 2022: 594

Easter 2022: 714

Brighton & Hove HAF financial overview

Total HAF grant allocation in 2022 to 2023: £762,760

HAF programme expenditure in 2022 to 2023: £701,390

Funding received from the Department for Education for 2022 to 2023: £704,018.

HAF expenditure 2022 to 2023

The pie chart below shows the proportion of HAF expenditure in 2022 to 2023. The administrative costs were £86,784 and the programme costs £614,606.

The proportion of HAF expenditure in 2022 to 2023. The administrative costs were £86,784 and the programme costs £614,606.

Breakdown of administrative costs 

This table shows a breakdown of the 2022 to 2023 HAF programme administrative costs.

General Salaries - Basic Pay, NI, Pensions (one programme manager, one administrator) 


Apprenticeship Levy 


Mobile Telephones - Calls\Rental 


Occupational Health Charge 


Buses - Public Transport 


DBS Check Police Fees 


Computers - Maintenance 


Office Stationery 


Highlights of HAF 2022

Significant growth was achieved in 2022, with 158% more HAF places attended than the previous year.

The programme saw improved attendance, with 92.4% of all available sessions attended.

Brighton & Hove’s HAF offer has provided many unique and memorable experiences, including:

  • the use of sewing machines to make tote bags with The Fashion School
  • walking through the treetops at Cardinal Newman with Summer Adventure Camps
  • children playing instruments in a performance for their families after a week’s course with Create Music

A few highlights of visits to see HAF in action included: 

  • meeting young refugees at Brighton Table Tennis Club who would otherwise be spending the holidays in hotels with their families - they benefitted hugely from the space to run around and meet other children, as well as preparing their own food together which was culturally significant to them
  • meeting a group of teenagers who learned how to dice and slice vegetables, as they learnt to make quick and healthy egg burritos with the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership
  • seeing significant progression from a group of teenage boys that were undertaking strength and conditioning training with coaching from the FMG Project - their improvement in technique and movement coordination was clearly visible in less than an hour
  • observing two primary-aged boys at Starfish Kids Camp develop a beautiful friendship over the summer, regardless of the language barrier with one being a Ukrainian refugee who couldn't speak English
  • the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy (HOGDA) Sussex awarding a scholarship to a young person with autism to extend their involvement, having grown so much in confidence to take on a leading role in the end of week performance
A photo of HAF participants enjoying their skateboarding session with Active for Life

What families said about HAF 2022

In 2022, 95.9% of families said they would recommend HAF to other families with eligible children.

Specific testimonials received from parents and carers included: 

  • “I think it was absolutely wonderful. Such an amazing service. After having been made redundant two years ago after a long service, I have been lost. This really helped to give some normality. Thank you so much” 
  • “It really helped both mine and my child's mental wellness” 
  • “Absolutely brilliant, my son loved every session he did and can’t wait to do it again” 
  • “The best camp my kids ever attend, thank you very much for organising” 
  • “Honestly, I'm finishing up my degree as a nurse and have a total of 5 weeks left of the course at uni. HAF has been an absolute lifesaver and I am so so grateful” 
  • “I LOVE it!! My older child looks forward to it every year and I know my younger child will love it to"
  • "It’s so great and inclusive and provides families like myself who don’t have that financial ability or family support some respite. Provides the children with a sense of inclusion and being able to learn new activities through your amazing workshops” 
HAF participants enjoying their session with Bevendean Gymnastics.

Additional support provided for the whole family

All families accessing HAF were signposted and referred to other support services available across the city via the Family Hubs. You can find more guidance and support for families on the Family Service Directory

Families were also offered cookery workshops with their children. These were delivered by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership at their Community Kitchen.

They included topics such as:

  • healthy packed lunches
  • low and no energy cooking
  • cooking on a low budget

Families also had the option of attending lunch clubs with Chomp. They offered activities, support, and food to the whole family. 

A HAF participant enjoying the pizza they made as part of the session with Brighton Table Tennis Club.

Developing the HAF offer

In 2022, the following groups attended our steering group:

  • Early Years and Childcare 
  • Public Health 

Others had to withdraw because of changes in role, so we have invited new members to join the group in 2023.

We carried out further targeted consultation with: 

  • Parent and Carers Council (PaCC) 
  • Youth Services 
  • HAF providers 
  • families accessing HAF 

HAF was represented on working groups related to various citywide strategies, including: 

  • Education Disadvantage Strategy 2020 to 2026 
  • Brighton & Hove Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2019 to 2030 

In 2023, we aim to increase the reach and engagement of the HAF programme. We will focus on developing the offer for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).