Summer holiday fun ‘lifeline’ for North Yorkshire families
Feast picture

As the cost-of-living crisis puts greater financial pressure on households, North Yorkshire’s summer holiday programme has never before provided a greater lifeline for families on free school meals.

The FEAST programme, which takes place from Monday, 24 July, until Friday, 1 September, is being delivered together with North Yorkshire Together – a partnership between North Yorkshire Sport, North Yorkshire Youth and Rural Arts.

The scheme provides children and young people across the county with a welcome opportunity to socialise, learn new skills and stay active.

Open to all children and young people in North Yorkshire, those who receive benefits-related free school meals can attend for free and also receive a hot meal or packed lunch.

We have been allocated funding by the Department of Education for this year’s provision of summer activities. The programme received bids from 120 activity providers this year of which 101 were successful. This is an increase compared to the 69 that offered the sessions last year.

Keen to build on the success of last summer’s programme, executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “It’s heartening that we have the opportunity to build on the momentum of our previous success with the FEAST programme, which enables us to reach even more families this year.

“The FEAST programme offers a vitally important service to families, helping to ease the pressures that many households usually face during the school holiday period, such as added childcare and food costs.

“It is also a fantastic way to encourage children and young people to try new things and continue with those friendships made previously or make new friends while keeping their brains and bodies stimulated over the summer holidays.”

Similar views were shared by North Yorkshire Together’s Strategic Director, Max May, who said: “I am delighted so many providers have come forward this summer to get involved as this scheme makes such a big difference to local families, especially those that need our help more than ever.

“Feedback over the past couple of years by those children and young people who attend has been excellent and most go on to attend multiple sessions; learning new skills, making new friends and growing in confidence around what they are able to achieve.”

Single mother-of-two Jade Wrightson, from Harrogate, is among those who will benefit from free healthy meals and enriching activities during the summer. She highlights how the summer holiday programme is a “lifesaver” to her family.

Her children, Freddie, aged nine, and eight-year-old Emmie, enjoy attending Sporting Influence camp in Harrogate. They are looking forward to returning during the holidays.

Jade said: “Without FEAST I wouldn’t be able to work. I’m a teaching assistant and I clean too. I would have to save up to afford these activities or search for free things to do. Thanks to FEAST, the children enjoy a full day out playing and trying activities they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do.

“Freddie and Emmie cannot wait to go back to Sporting Influence where they take part in a range of sports activities and receive certificates celebrating what they’ve achieved. It’s an environment where they have fun, stay active, make new friends and eat healthy meals.”

Jade added: “The FEAST initiative is a massive help for families like ours. I wouldn’t be able to cope in the holidays without it.”

The North Yorkshire Together website contains online resources and inspiration for activities that families can enjoy over the holidays, as well as a directory of holiday clubs taking place across the county.

Eligible families across North Yorkshire will receive information about FEAST and a voucher to book their free place via their school.

Read more details about the FEAST programme.

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