Vicky Ford, the Minister for Children and Families, visited sites across East Sussex including Eastbourne to learn about the ‘Holiday Food and Fun’ scheme funded by the Department for Education (DfE) – a scheme which is managed by East Sussex County Council (ESCC).
The schemes provide free activities and food to support eligible children during the school holidays.
Mrs Ford was joined by the Children’s Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Rachel Da Souza who has been leading work on schools’ post-pandemic recovery, and East Sussex MPs Sally Ann-Hart, Huw Merriman and Caroline Ansell.
Mrs Ford was invited by Mrs Ansell to see the work taking place in the town.
The ESCC leader Councillor Keith Glazier and the lead member for education, and inclusion, special educational needs and disability, Cllr Bob Standley also joined the visit yesterday (Monday, August 23).
The group visited water sport centre Buzz Active – an East Sussex County Council managed site providing a four-day course for children aged between 11 and 16.
Mrs Ford said, “It has been absolutely fantastic to be here in East Sussex today to see children and young people having the best time at their Holiday Activities and Food clubs, all funded by our national programme.
“I have been able to see first-hand how our expanded programme, running every region across England is supporting thousands of pupils and ESCC’s work with their schools, holiday clubs and activity providers will be hugely beneficial to their children’s wellbeing and enrichment, especially those who need it the most.”
Mrs Ansell said, “It is vitally important that children who suffer disadvantage are given the opportunities that build the confidence and life experiences that underpin future success.
“It is important that the government funds this sort of work and linking providing food with learning is a positive move and I am a big fan of this approach.
“From speaking to quite a few teenagers it was obvious these programmes have made a big difference to them and their families.”
Mrs Ford said, “I’d like to thank Caroline for inviting me to come to hear directly from youngsters and to see some of the brilliant work going on this summer.
“Caroline has been a real champion for children and young people in Eastbourne.”
East Sussex County Council was awarded £1.6 million of government funding to run the Holiday Activity and Food Programme and the Eastbourne initiative is part of 55 such projects county wide.
Cllr Keith Glazier said, “The DfE-funded Holiday Food and Fun programme has been serving up a menu of fun, healthy activities and nutritious meals to local children over the last few weeks. 70 providers have offered a fun activities and nutritious food at 85 locations this summer.
“The visit has showcased the fantastic work that the additional government funding has enabled and illustrates the positive impact the holiday activities food and fun projects have on children and their families.
“The programme scheme demonstrates the huge benefits of partnership working when there is increased investment and dedicated funding for holiday activity provision.
“If the funding were to continue, we would support and develop these partnerships to benefit young people during the school holidays.”
The group also visited activities in Hastings, St Leonards-on-Sea and Sidley.
For more information on the programme visit eastsussex.gov.uk/holidayactivities