Lunch and activity clubs launched for South Tyneside children over summer holidays
Thousands of children in South Tyneside are set to benefit from free holiday clubs offering activities and a nutritious lunches during the summer school holidays.
Funded by the Department of Education, the schemes are being delivered by the South Tyneside Council and its partners.
Places are free to those who receive benefit-related free school meals, though education chiefs said some struggling families whose children are not entitled to free school meals may also be eligible for free places.
Beverley Scanlon, head of Learning and Early Help at the council, said the clubs will offer a range of fun activities for children and young people between the ages of five and 16 to enjoy with their friends.
She said they will provide nutritious meals and ‘enriching activities’ such as sport, music, dance, drama, art, cooking and gardening. Trips to the Centre for Life in Newcastle will also be on offer.
The Government’s investment in the Holiday Activities and Food programme comes after the 2019 rollout in 2019 of holiday clubs and the work of food banks who provide help to those in need all year round.
Families on benefits-related free school meals can also receive a voucher worth £12.50 per child for every week of the six week holidays to help with additional food costs.
The hardship faced by those entitled to free school meals in the holiday months has seldom been far from the headlines in recent years, particularly during the pandemic.
Ms Scanlon said: “Around 6,500 children in South Tyneside are eligible for free school meals but this number is growing as a result of the pandemic.
“We also know that that there are many working parents who cannot access certain benefits who are often amongst the most financially vulnerable and may struggle with the costs of good food and activities when schools are closed.
“These clubs will enable us to deliver one of the Council’s priorities of supporting families and giving every child the best start in life.”
The council has secured almost £750,000 in Government funding to run the clubs over the summer holidays and also for four days at Christmas.
The clubs are being run at various venues throughout the Borough.