Since 2018, the Department for Education funded HAF programme has provided support to children in receipt of free school meals through holiday periods.
Research has shown that the school holidays can be difficult for some families. For some children that can lead to a holiday experience gap where they are less likely to access organised out-of-school activities and more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health and social isolation.
Evidence shows that free holiday clubs can have a positive impact on children and young people and, since 2021, the HAF programme has supported thousands of children and their families throughout the Easter, summer, and Christmas school holidays.
Aims of the HAF programme
There are many benefits for children who attend the HAF programme:
- receiving healthy and nutritious meals
- maintaining a healthy level of physical activity
- being happy, having fun and meeting new friends
- developing a greater understanding of food, nutrition and other health-related issues
- taking part in fun and engaging activities that support their development
- feeling safe and secure
- getting access to the right support services
- returning to school feeling engaged and ready to learn
Families can also benefit through:
- opportunities to get involved in cookery sessions
- signposting to other sources of information and support, such as health services or employment and education opportunities