School’s out for summer: Holiday activity programmes begin across the borough

photo of staff involved with the summer programme

A programme providing young people who are eligible for benefit related free school meals with fun activities, friendship and food throughout the summer months is beginning across Wigan Borough.

Wigan Council works with more than 40 providers to help deliver the ‘HAF’ scheme – a holiday activity and food programme for children aged between five and 16.

From culture and leisure to sport and art, the activities provided offer the opportunity to get involved with engaging and enriching activities, helping participants to meet new friends, get active and access healthy food throughout the summer months.

Councillor Jenny Bullen, portfolio holder for children, young people and families, said: “It was wonderful to mark the start of the summer holidays with a visit to two of our summer holiday activity providers.

“The HAF programme is really important and has a huge impact on children and families across our borough, allowing children to get out and about during the summer, access new and exciting activities and most importantly, eat a healthy meal each day.

“We know that holiday hunger is a real worry for some families and we’re proud that we can support our residents to keep our children and young people fit and healthy in the summer months.”

Up to 11,000 children and young people are set to benefit from the HAF programmes in Wigan Borough this summer and schools have been responsible for requesting E-Vouchers for eligible families. 

Families who receive an E-Voucher are entitled to log on to a booking platform where they can choose from a range of activities. 

Each voucher – one per eligible child – entitles the recipient to access up to 64 hours of free activities.

Many of the HAF activity providers also offer paid-for places for non-eligible families and these places can be accessed by contacting providers directly.

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities, added: “We know that the rising cost of living is putting an even greater strain on families in Wigan Borough, but it is fantastic to see the high-quality activities our partners are delivering for children and young people this summer.

“Culture and leisure activities both play an important part in how young people interact with the world around them and we’re pleased that all children in the borough are able to access this kind of provision during the summer months.”

The Department for Education has provided Wigan Council with £1.3 million of funding per year until at least 2025 to support the authority to make free places available to children eligible for benefit related free school meals.

Coun Ready added: “It isn’t too late for eligible families to book their place. If you have received an E-Voucher and want to book an activity, please click on the link provided in the E-vouchers email to access the latest availability.  Places are allocated on a first come first served basis.”