Croydon children to get £650,000 holiday club boost

Thousands of Croydon children will get free summer holiday activity clubs and healthy meals after the council and a national charity jointly won major Government funding.

Croydon Council and Family Action have today been named as one of nine successful joint bids – and the only one in London – to offer sports activities, healthy food classes and welfare support for up to 9,000 young people and their families throughout the summer holidays.

This £657,000 programme is funded by the Department for Education and is the largest of its kind to date in Croydon, and will include around 7,000 children who qualify for free school meals. Croydon is in the highest national 25% of children eligible for free school meals, and 24% of Croydon residents are in low-paid employment, with 21% the London average.

Between now and the summer holidays, up to around 100 eligible schemes for young people, including schools and youth clubs, will be invited to bid for the funding. The 100 clubs will be based around key wards across the borough where 7,800 (70%) of Croydon’s 11,483 children on free school meals live.

As well as encouraging young people to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle during the long summer holidays, the programme will also support their families to improve their finances and job prospects through budgeting advice, training and housing information. The council and Family Action will also give providers training, activity resources and recipes, a helpline, and peer-to-peer support sessions.

Clubs will deliver a minimum of 16 four-hour sessions over four weeks, and funding will be particularly targeted at key free school meals groups, including looked-after children, families in emergency accommodation and young people with special educational needs.

The plan will also source sustainable surplus food and funding from local organisations and access Family Action’s network of breakfast club schools in Croydon. Funding will range from £260 per session to £400 depending on the group's size, plus equipment grants of £300.

Mario Creatura, Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon Central, said: "All children should have the opportunity to enjoy healthy food and fun activites during the school holidays. That's why I'm pleased the Government has quadrupled funding nationally to provide free summer holiday clubs. This will support some 50,000 of the most disadvantaged kids across the country - with around 9,000 benefitting right here in Croydon."

Organisations interested in applying to be involved can email haf@family-action.org.uk.