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Free holiday activities and healthy meals for schoolchildren

From slow cooker meal preparation to high wire fun, there are free holiday activities and a healthy meal on offer for school age children living in the High Peak this Christmas.

More than 19,000 free places are on offer at 80 venues including community centres, village halls and schools across Derbyshire, providing activity sessions four days per week.

It's part of the winter holiday activity and food programme (HAF) programme developed by Derbyshire County Council and supported by funding from the Department for Education.

The activities are for children aged 5-16 and will be available from Thursday 23 December to Friday 7 January, excluding bank holidays and weekends.

The sessions are free for families who claim benefit related free school meals. Places are available on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to children who receive free school meals. 

A limited number of holiday activity places are available for other disadvantaged school age young people living in the county including children with special educational needs and children in care.

At some venues across the county, a very limited supply of food boxes will be available for children who are unable to attend the face-to-face sessions due to illness or the need to isolate in line with COVID guidance.

Children will be provided with a healthy meal at breakfast or lunchtime and a choice of fun, seasonal activities on offer at selected venues including:

  • how to cook slow cooker meals at Chapel en le Frith town hall to help children and parents get hands on with food and nutrition by preparing healthy, value for money meals, with a Level 2 hygiene qualification for parents to enhance their skills and potential job opportunities
  • football coaching provided by Derby County Community Trust
  • breakfast with Santa provided by Chesterfield Town football club
  • outdoor fun including climbing walls, high wire challenges 
  • forest school classes to learn how to build a shelter and make a fire
  • arts and crafts activities.

Councillor Julie Patten, Derbyshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Following the positive feedback and take-up of our summer holiday activity schemes, we’re very pleased to offer a great range of fun, free activity sessions across the county during the Christmas break.

“With 19,000 places available at 80 venues across the county, a host of activities are on offer to provide opportunities for children to meet up with their friends, learn new skills and get a healthy and nutritious meal – a real bonus for families on low incomes.”

“It’s easy to find out more on our website including a postcode search to find a venue near you. Let’s make this Christmas a great one for children across Derbyshire.”

To find out more and to register, parents can visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/holidayactivities. The webpage includes an interactive map with a postcode/address search to find nearby school holiday clubs and how to register.

The county council’s interactive itsaboutmederbyshire.co.uk website has also been updated with a range of online games and fun activities for children and useful information about wellbeing, food nutrition and exercise. 

The holiday sessions are provided by voluntary sector organisations based in Derbyshire who are experienced at working with children and understand the needs of the local community. Providers include Amber Valley School Sports Partnership, Premier Education, Sporting Communities and Derby County Community Trust.

Derbyshire County Council ran a similar programme of activities during the summer holidays which was used by over 5,000 children at 80 venues across the county.

The free school holiday activities for school age children living in the county are in addition to other sources of support available from Derbyshire County Council including:

  • the Household Support Fund – available to households facing financial hardship, a maximum of two payments worth £64 plus an extra £20 for each partner/spouse and any dependent children. Apply by telephoning Call Derbyshire, the county council’s customer service team on 01629 533399. Full details online at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/householdsupportfund
  • the Derbyshire Discretionary Fund – provides emergency payments following a crisis or disaster to people in receipt of benefits including income support, Jobseeker’s allowance, pension credit and other benefits. Apply by telephoning Call Derbyshire, the county council’s customer service team on 01629 533399. Full details online at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/discretionaryfund

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