Free activities and food for Walsall families
4th March 2021
Children in Walsall who are eligible for free school meals and their families will be able to access free activities and food boxes during the Easter holidays.
The government has announced a £1.7m investment to Walsall for the delivery of a Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme.
The programme aims to provide healthy food and enriching activities during the school holidays to the 13,500 children who receive benefits-related free school meals in Walsall. It will offer valuable support to families on lower incomes, giving them the opportunity to access a range of activities, alongside healthy meals, during the school holidays.
Councillor Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services said: “I really welcome this funding as it will enable us to give much-needed support to many local families who we know are really struggling. National research tells us that some children are more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health and also that some children from lower-income families are less likely to access fun activities. It is a priority for us that children in Walsall have the best possible start in life and this funding will help us to address the concerns raised by the national research.
“We have worked with a range of partners to develop an Easter programme providing families with children eligible for free school meals access to a free Healthy Meal Kit box containing Ingredients to cook healthy meals on a budget, recipe cards, information on nutrition provided through Public Health and opportunities to attend online cooking sessions.
“The programme also offers access to extra support through sign-posting to key agencies for those families who need it.”
Councillor Chris Towe, Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills said: “School holidays can be pressure points for some families at the best of times, but during a pandemic, where many families on lower incomes are struggling with increased costs and reduced incomes and have also had the added pressure of home-schooling, they need all the help we can give.
“I’m really pleased that the programme will offer access to free, fun and enriching activities to beat boredom, develop skills and knowledge that will support our children’s education and help them to reach their full potential. The programme will also connect children with activities and organisations that provide activities outside school holidays.”
A postcard has been sent out to alert all families with children eligible for free school meals, containing information on the Easter offer, a how to register guide and a unique child registration code.
On 19 March 2021 Walsall Council will be sending out the activity programme to those who have registered with instructions on how to claim their food box and how to book onto activities.
Online booking can take place from Monday 22 March 2021. Families will be able to book children onto as many activities as they want, pending availability, as well as selecting a food box.
Face to face activities will only be available to families/children who have no access to the internet and those children will be identified through the council’s Holiday Activities Team. Anyone wishing to discuss face to face provision should contact the Holiday Activities helpline on 01922 653899.
All activities will be delivered throughout the Easter Holiday from Monday 6 April until Friday 16 April.