Nurseries, schools, colleges, youth groups and community and voluntary sector organisations are being urged to apply for grant funding to host free activities for children and young people during the summer holidays.
The Holiday Activity Fund (HAF) aims to provide healthy food and physical activities for children and young people aged five to 16 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals during school holidays.
Eight organisations took part in the programme over Easter, providing a nutritious meal and healthy activities — from horse riding and theatre skills to sports coaching and soft play sessions — to scores of Island youngsters.
With summer fast approaching, the Isle of Wight Council is urging groups to get their HAF applications in now by visiting the connect4communities.org website.
Suzanne Smith, assistant director of children’s services, said: “Are you a group or organisation planning to run activities during the summer holidays?
“If so, why not apply for grant funding to provide some free places for families on low incomes? The council’s team is here to help you through the process and to make it as simple as possible.
“School holidays can be particularly difficult for families because of increased costs, such as food and childcare and reduced incomes — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This means some children and young people are less likely to access organised out-of-school activities and can miss out on the social and health benefits of such activities.
“By taking part in a free holiday club where a nutritious meal is provided, disadvantaged children get to enjoy the same enriching experiences as many of their friends and peers.”
The aim of the government’s HAF programme is to make free places available to eligible children and young people for the equivalent of four hours a day, four days a week for six weeks a year, giving them a chance to enjoy the same enriching experiences as many of their friends and peers.