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Council supports food and activity schemes this Christmas

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Christmas schemes that provide food and activities to Island children who are eligible for free school meals will receive funding totalling more than £20,000. 

Members of the Isle of Wight Council's Cabinet approved four separate grant awards last Thursday.

The funding comes from the Department for Education's Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme, which was set up so local authorities could offer healthy food and enriching activities to children eligible for free school meals during the 2021 school holidays.

Hundreds of children, young people and families on the Island enjoyed a summer of fun thanks to the connect4communities programme. Activities included horse riding, holiday clubs and play sessions and similar will be available over the festive break.

Councillor Debbie Andre, Cabinet member for children's services, attended one of the summer schemes and saw first-hand the children having fun and making new friends.

She said: "I was struck by the energy and enthusiasm of the staff building trust with the group which enabled them to identify any further needs and to be able to signpost parents to additional support.

"I wish to say a huge thank you to all of the providers who have worked with us to support families by arranging fun and exciting activities for children and young people and also providing them with a nutritious meal.

"The HAF programme has been a real success in providing a range of quality activities for children and young people who might not otherwise have had the chance to attend a holiday club or an activity day."

In its budget statement, the government announced funding support for the HAF programme for a further three years.

The aim of the scheme is to make free places available to eligible children for the equivalent of at least four hours a day, four days a week and for six weeks a year.

Trevor Nicholas, chief executive of Aspire Ryde, said: "Aspire Ryde are pleased to once again offer our food and fun programme during the Christmas holidays.

"Funded through the HAF initiative we will be providing free access to our soft play facility allowing children to play and learn alongside a healthy hot daily meal. There will be visits from Santa as well as reading with a Disney princess and comic book characters.

"We are excited to be able to provide this excellent opportunity for children to play, learn and eat together in a fun and imaginative Christmas environment.

"In addition we will be providing support to parents around budgeting for Christmas and assistance with home cooking as well as support for those experiencing crisis around Christmas time. It is fantastic that we are able to provide this experience for children and families who need it most."

The activity providers for the Christmas HAF are as follows:

Aspire Ryde
Aspire will be running a Fun and Food Christmas Club. Kids play session with a healthy meal provided in the Kingdom play activity centre. Ages four to 16 years. Email: info@aspireryde.org.uk or call (01983) 716020.

Island Riding Centre
Island Riding Centre are providing activities which include horse riding, craft activities and interactive learning related to horses including well-being, diet and nutrition with a healthy lunch provided for ages six to 14. Email: winter@islandriding.com or call (01983) 214000.

Theatre Educational
Theatre Educational's 'Christmas Cracker' runs for two days on 22 and 23 December. This festive holiday provision is for children aged five-16 years and will include performance work themed on the popular musical movie 'Nativity'. As well as creative performance based sessions, there will also be themed prop and accessory making as well as arts and crafts. A hot delicious and nutritious meal will be provided for all participants. There are two sites for these workshops in Newport and Ryde. If you want to book please call Katy on 07984 170014 or fill in the application via: https://app.classmanager.com/portal/theatre-educational/register 

Ventnor Community Early Years
Ventnor Community Early Years are providing sessions offering activities including gymnastics, dance, arts and crafts, sports, and woodlearn forest school and much more. For five to ten years old. Email: ventnorcommunityearlyyears@gmail.com or call (01983) 856868.

For more information about the Holiday Activity Fund, please visit: connect4communities.org

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