Free Holiday Activities and Food Returns this Winter

A host of fun activities and nutritious food are available for children this Christmas school holidays, and eligible families can now sign up for clubs near them free of charge.

West Sussex County Council's Holiday Activity and Food programme is back this December, offering free holiday club places for children who receive means-tested free school meals.

The first places are now available to search and book directly with providers on West Sussex County Council's Holiday Activities and Food website. You can check if you're eligible and more places will be added in the coming weeks, so keep checking the website.

The County Council is again also providing a £15 supermarket food voucher to these children, separately to the holiday programme. This will further support over 17,500 West Sussex children who receive free school meals (means-tested) and their families with the rising cost of living.

'Loved every second'

41 groups are onboard to help us deliver free activities for children to get stuck into during the two-week Christmas school holiday. A wide range of clubs are available for families to choose from, from sports to theatre and outdoor clubs, to family soft play, music, cooking and gymnastics, right across West Sussex. Every child will be given a meal each day they take part.

The programme ran over the summer holidays and was a real success. In total, 2,395 eligible children took part over the six weeks and it proved a big hit with parents and carers as well.

One parent said: "Everything that the Council and the club have provided has been amazing. This is exactly what needs to continue to happen to help and allow a single mother like myself to continue working and not need to worry about my son. He has loved every second of these camps and will definitely want to come to more in the future."

Another said: "What a wonderful place to spend summer holidays. My child absolutely adored all you guys and you were so generous!"

Free school meals vouchers

Every child who receives means-tested free school meals will be provided with a £15 supermarket food voucher, as West Sussex County Council continues its holiday voucher scheme which began at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The County Council has so far allocated £6.8m of its Household Support Fund from government to the voucher scheme and issued 180,000 vouchers to families via schools since 2020.

Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills, said: "Children and families who enjoyed our summer Holiday Activity and Food gave some really positive feedback which shows how much of a success it was. It will be running again over the Christmas holiday and I encourage eligible families to have a look at what's on offer near them, especially for children who haven't yet taken part. Every child who receives benefits-related free school meals will again be given a food voucher, irrespective of if they take up holiday club places, demonstrating our Council's commitment to supporting families this winter."

Cost of living support

West Sussex County Council's Cost of Living webpages provide help, advice and practical support for those who need it this winter. Visit: www.westsussex.gov.uk/cost-of-living/