Holiday food

Healthy Holidays in many areas of West Yorkshire

Read about schemes in the Bradford area

When you got back to school, did your teacher ask you to write about what you did in the school holidays?

Some of Bradford’s children have very little to tell.

This year, this has changed for many of Bradford’s low income families - with just under 100 projects being funded by Give Bradford Healthy Holiday Fund (with money from the lottery and Morrisons amongst others) and TLG’s Department of Education Holiday Activities and Food programme.

Some schemes are run by dedicated teachers and headteachers in lots of inner city schools, they enable children to benefit from a more relaxed relationship with the staff and lots of informal learning and fun, plus a healthy lunch.

Youth centres are running transition programmes to get children ready for the move to secondary school – an anxious time for many children and families. These programmes are followed with lunch and open activities for all. Several of these centres say that kids come in ravenous for lunch, and keen to know what’s on offer.

Community centres and groups are also offering a wide variety of programs – some focus on sports, others include visits, dance, arts and crafts, and all of them include a healthy lunch.

Open access schemes where children come and play, build and make things are running in some of our big low income estates. Some of these schemes have operated in other holidays before; they report that this year, with the addition of funding for a healthy lunch, the children's behaviour has been a lot less challenging.

Particularly to be commended are those schemes that are run just by volunteers, their dedication to their communities is inspiring. For example, we went litter picking and flower planting in Holmewood with one scheme, and the leader said: "If we all knock where we live then yes, it will stay the same. I want our children and families to start to value where they live. Yes, the last time we planted flowers they were trashed but we need to keep going." She also walks with families to local woods and parks to show them low cost places nearby that they can access for days out.

But what do the children think? – It has been thumbs up all round! They all enjoy what’s on offer. They like being with friends and making new ones. They say it is less boring that being at home. When asked what would they do at home if there was no scheme, usually it is screen-based or just hanging around.

It is a great summer of fun. There will be lots for children to write about when they get back to school.

We need to keep telling our MPs and councillors and anyone who is listening that we need funding for these sorts of schemes for low income families each and every year.

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