Free school holiday activities and meals programme returns for winter

Children and teens from families facing financial challenges have the opportunity to take part in a free programme of fun activities and healthy meals during the school Christmas holidays.

The Winter 2021 Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme is for children and young people aged 4 to 16 who are in full-time education and receive benefits-related free school meals.

The events take place at 18 different locations in Brighton & Hove with playschemes, sports clubs, and community organisations opening their doors.

It follows the successful summer HAF programme in Brighton & Hove that saw more than 550 children benefit from the provision.

Brighton & Hove children and teen taking part in the summer Holiday Activities and Food programme

Many were inspired by footballer Marcus Rashford who helped launch the summer programme nationally and took part in a video to encourage kids to take part:

"It’s very important that children have activities to do during the holidays. I can only go back to my own experiences and what I would have been doing if I didn’t have places my friends and I could go in a safe environment."  Marcus Rashford MBE

Fun activities for all ages

Activities include fun multi-sports, dance and drama, and will take place at various locations through the city. All children and young people attending will get a free tasty, healthy meal – and learn about healthy eating in a fun, interactive way.

From cooking to crafts and skateboarding skills, HAF is a chance for children to try something new. 

There is also a Christmas party and winter solstice celebrations, with face and pebble painting and other activities.

HAF is for children aged 4 to 16

Specialist provision is on offer for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, including a Multi Sports Festival at Moulscoomb Leisure Centre on Monday 20 December.

The programme is entirely free, and runs from Monday 20 December to Friday 24 December, with some activities continuing until 31 December.

More than 500 children and teens took part in the summer HAF programme

The HAF programme is delivered by Brighton & Hove City Council and a range of local community organisations and playscheme providers. It is funded by the Department for Education.

Councillor Hannah Clare, chair of the council's Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said: “School holidays can be a particularly difficult time for some families due to increased food and childcare costs and reduced incomes.

"This winter, owing to recent increases in food and energy prices, families are particularly worried about food insecurity, according to new data from The Food Foundation*.” 

“HAF offers a safe and supportive environment where children and young people can learn, be active and eat well, as well as make new friends locally.

“We were so happy with the success of the summer and Easter programmes, and hope just as many will get involved during the Christmas school holidays.” 

What parents say

“The Summer Playscheme came at a vital time for our family and really helped us get through the summer.”

“My daughter loved it [Elm Grove Out of School Club] and wants to go back - please keep it going - it's vital for low income single parent families like us”

How to book

If your child receives benefits-related free school meals, please check out the directory of Christmas school holiday activities and book by contacting the provider for the activity you are interested.

Places are limited, so book quickly to avoid appointment.

Kids of all ages enjoyed skateboarding tuition

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