We're delighted to be one of only seven organisations around the country chosen to be part of a £2m Government pilot project examining the benefits of free school holiday activities.

Hundreds of families in financial hardship will benefit from free healthy meals and activities during the summer holidays thanks to the Department for Education initiative.

In the North East, Children North East has been awarded just under £227,000 for its North East Summer Holiday Clubs Project, which is being delivered now in 16 schools across Teesside, County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

Announcing the funding, Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said:

“For most pupils, the end of the school summer term signals the start of holidays, days out and a chance to make memories with friends and family. Other families, who might rely on the support provided by schools, are not so lucky.

“I’d like to congratulate Children North East who will run the DfE North East Summer Holiday Clubs Project this summer to support the most disadvantaged families across the North East of England. This exciting scheme will open the door to exciting, engaging activities for young people, make sure they are getting a healthy meal, and above all, give them the summer holiday memories and experiences they all deserve.”

Jeremy Cripps, our Chief Executive, welcomed the funding announcement:

“This means we can continue to fund holiday clubs in disadvantaged areas of the region as we did last summer, when we received a Big Lottery grant. The clubs will run for at least four weeks and will provide healthy food and activities for children. We know from previous experience that parents will be relieved from financial pressure to feed children who usually have free school meals in term time and will be reassured their children are safe, entertained and happy.”

Last summer Northumbria University, Newcastle, undertook the largest ever study of school holiday clubs in England.

Prof. Greta Defeyter with children from Bridgewater School

Professor Greta Defeyter, Director of the university’s Healthy Living Lab, said: “Our findings suggest that holiday club provision offers the potential to have a far wider impact than previously evidenced on children’s health, wellbeing and education.

“They revealed that activities provided at clubs are one of the most highly valued aspects of this provision, both by children and parents. The consistent theme of ‘safety’ reported by children, parents and staff was quite remarkable and something not previously reported.”

One of the schools benefiting from this year’s funding is Bridgewater School in Scotswood, Newcastle.

Parent, Clare Hutchinson, who has five children, two of whom attend the Bridgewater summer holiday scheme, said the project was a godsend during what can be one of the most expensive times of the year for families.

“Financially it’s a big help. Last year I went on trips with the children to Gibside and to a museum and we did healthy eating and a gardening club. It also gave me a bit more confidence in myself to do things with my kids.”

Pictured: Prof Greta Defeyter of Northumbria University with Children North East Chief Executive, Jeremy Cripps and Gillian Gibson, Extended Services Manager at Bridgewater School with holiday club children.

For hints and tips on how to run your own successful holiday club visit our Summer Holiday Clubs page.