This Summer, in partnership with Blackpool Council, Blackpool FC Community Trust has continued to support families across the town with access to free activities and healthy meals.
The Blackpool Holiday Activity and Food programme (HAF) is a government-funded programme that has supported 1376 young people through seven providers of the programme with 85.5% of participants being children on free school meals (FSM) and 14.5% being targeted through other vulnerabilities. The HAF programme is dedicated to supporting children and families during the Easter, Summer and Christmas school holidays, this Summer 347 sessions were delivered to children and young people. This programme aims to deliver engaging activities, provide health and nutrition information and free healthy meals each day to the participants. Although guidance for Summer recommended the programme ran for 4 hours, 4 days a week, over 4 weeks, many providers extended this service to support the overwhelming need in the town.
Blackpool FC Community Trust were selected to coordinate the Blackpool HAF programme and we worked in partnership with several other third sector and public service organisations to fulfil the aims of the programme across Blackpool. Our months of planning provided the partners with an extensive programme of delivery that utilised local parks, schools, beaches, and attractions to give the participants some amazing experiences on their doorstep.
These were combined with residential trips in some of the most picturesque parts of the Lancashire countryside where children learned new skills and rediscovered their sense of adventure. We used our expertise and local knowledge to design unique experiences for our participants with a health and activities theme running through them.
In addition to coordinating the HAF programme, Blackpool FC Community Trust also lead seven HAF holiday camps, providing a service focused on keeping children active through multi-sports games and play activities. Including a high school football offer based at PlayFootball and a SEND specific group offer at Bloomfield Road, where participants were able to play, craft and dance in the recently developed activity spaces in the North Stand.
As part of the 2021 Summer HAF programme Blackpool FC Community Trust provided 278 participants, 94% of which were on FSM, with engaging activities through our Kicks sessions, Inclusion Camp and Sports Camp. Our sessions involve a multitude of activities from varied sports including football, hockey, and table tennis to a range of art and crafts activities for children with a creative nature. We hosted themed days for the children including, a mini-Olympic competition with several races, as well as completing fitness video workouts with Joe Wicks. As rewards, we provided the children with vouchers to Ascent trampoline Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Our Head of Early Years and Primary programmes said, “The summer HAF Programme is has been an amazing example of what can be achieved with partners that see the benefit of supporting families through the school holidays. Being able to offer activities that enhance social engagement, form friendship groups, and promote health and wellbeing values ultimately improves the lives of the participants. As a Trust, we are extremely proud to have engaged with over 200 children and young people on FSM over 600 hours of activities’’
To evaluate the success of our summer HAF provisions we conducted parent and participant surveys, we were overwhelmed with the positive feedback we received, one parent said, “The team are fantastic, and the kids loved their time there. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved.” 100% of participants reported enjoying themselves at camp and the same amount said they made new friends during the sessions.