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Derby’s Summer Holiday Club Program Enriches the Lives of Thousands of Children

During the summer break, over 2,000 children in Derby participated in the city’s no-cost holiday club initiative. The Derby Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) program, a collaborative effort between Derby City Council and Community Action Derby, provided these activities.

The HAF programme offers activities and food to children aged 5 to 16 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals in Derby. Youngsters can learn new skills while socialising and having fun with their friends. They are also provided with a healthy meal and given the opportunity to learn about healthy food and nutrition.

The holiday clubs offered the chance to try new and enriching activities including music production, drama and science experiments as well as sports and physical activities like football, rugby, basketball and street dance.

During the six-week holidays, 29 providers welcomed a total of 2,191 Derby children. These included 1,740 of primary school age and 451 from secondary school.

One of the providers, Normanton-based Community One, took groups of children out of the city once a week to enjoy the great outdoors at the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall. The children took part in Junior Ranger days, with activities including pond dipping, bug-hunting, nature walks and bird ringing – and also got to visit the mansion house.

Helen Cashin, Volunteering and Community Manager at Hardwick, said:

We were delighted to host children from Community One at Hardwick Hall over the summer. It was a chance for us to share the beauty of Hardwick’s landscape and inspire a new generation of nature lovers through our Junior Ranger project. We loved seeing the children’s excitement as they explored the parkland and would love to welcome them back in the future.

The sessions received positive feedback from children and parents. One parent said:

The range of exciting physical activities at Hardwick Hall and the Peak District has encouraged us as parents to be more active, walk more and enjoy the great outdoors.

Another of the programme’s shining successes was the Soccerstars Foundation Reading Challenge, which was brought back for their summer camp after getting positive feedback from parents during the Easter break.

Derby’s Summer Holiday Club Program Enriches the Lives of Thousands of Children

Children were given sport-themed books as prizes to encourage them to read and talk about their reading with staff. A parent whose child took part in sessions at Derby Rugby Club said:

I think the fact that your staff are encouraging the children to read, asking them about the books and showing a genuine interest makes the children want to read more and shows how important it is also.

Five of the HAF providers, including Freedom Foundation and Umbrella, are specialists in activities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and their sessions got fantastic feedback from parents and children alike.

One parent said:

This scheme was fantastic. For my children to be around other children just like them was brilliant. At Umbrella, the kids are all the same, nice and friendly.

A young person who took part in Freedom Foundation’s sessions, which provided the opportunity to perform for parents, said:

I enjoyed dancing and singing. I sing at home but never at school. I loved expressing myself. It’s massively helped with my confidence. I’m so happy I sang a solo in the show. I’m super proud of myself.

Councillor John Whitby, Derby City Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Learning and Skills, said:

It’s fantastic that so many Derby children took part in the Summer HAF programme and had the chance to experience activities they may never have tried before. The scheme has been a huge success and we look forward to its return this winter.

The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) program is set to return during the winter school holidays in December, with booking availability starting in mid-November. In the upcoming winter and subsequent HAF programs, parents with children eligible for free school meals will need to enroll their child in the program. Upon registration, they will receive a booking code to be used with activity providers.

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