Thousands of west Cheshire children enjoyed free activities and food this spring

18 May 2022

During the spring school holidays, thousands of children were supported by the Holiday Activities and Food programme, coordinated by Edsential on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council. 

Across the borough, children and young people in receipt of free school meals enjoyed a range of enriching activities and delicious lunches from one of the 49 free activity clubs.

With funding from the Department for Education, 25 providers across west Cheshire organised a range of physical, mental, and educational clubs. Children and teens enjoyed nutritious lunches and snacks, in between activities like swimming, forest school lessons, arts and crafts, day trips and many more.

Heart 4 Refugees, who joined Edsential’s HAF programme this year, supported refugees within the local area during the April school holidays. One parent said:
“This club has been very helpful for me and my family especially for my son. He was alone and needed to integrate with children, but we didn't have any place to go but we found H4R. My son learnt a lot of things here, especially learning how to socialise and create better relationships with those around him; he is happier than ever before! I can say it's really helpful for me too and saved me from loneliness and depression now I have a place to go and share the good times with another.” 

Dandelions Day Nursery, who have been a part of Edsential’s HAF programme for 2 years, had an amazing time this spring.

One child who attended said:

“This week has been the best! We’ve been doing lots of arts and crafts getting ready for Easter, making some scarfs, painting outside on the flower beds and lots and lots of Easter paintings. I have painted mine blue and green because they are my favourite colours.”

Edsential were one of eleven chosen organisations who coordinated the Holiday Activity pilot programme in 2019. Since the Department for Education announced funding nationally in 2020, Edsential have continued to support children and young people across the borough on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Bethan cooper, Holiday Activity Fund Manager at Edsential said: 

"We are so pleased to have worked with 25 amazing voluntary, community, and faith-based organisations this spring. The young people in our community had a memorable opportunity to participate in engaging and enriching activities that promote resilience, character development, and well-being. We can’t wait to see what summer has in store!”

Following the success of the programme, the Department for Education has confirmed that funding will continue to be available to all councils until 2025.
Councillor Robert Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: 

“I am delighted to see that we have had yet another successful Holiday Activity and Food Programme here in west Cheshire. The programme continues to prove how worthwhile it is for our children and young people, and I am extremely grateful to all of our providers, old and new, who continue to support this fantastic initiative. 
“Providing healthy and tasty meals for children and young people is really important for their wellbeing and development. In addition, those attending the sessions get the opportunity to learn about food and nutrition in a fun and active way, setting them up for a healthy future so they can achieve the best start in life.”

Edsential’s Holiday Activity with Food programme will continue to run across summer and winter this year; keep an eye out on Edsential’s Facebook, Twitter or website to find out more.

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