The Welsh education secretary, Kirsty Williams, has announced the creation of a £500,000 fund to support summer holiday clubs in Wales.
The BBC reports that the money will be offered to local councils in Wales’ most deprived areas, to boost provision of summer holiday clubs and meals for children who attend.
Kirsty Williams said there would be elements of education in the summer holiday clubs and Wales’ universities would be involved, saying:
“These clubs will offer a positive environment for all our children during the summer holidays,” she said.
Williams, who is the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM added:
“The reality is, for some of our young people the school summer holidays can be a difficult time. Children who benefit from free school breakfasts and lunches often miss meals and go hungry once their school closes for the holidays, while the lack of free play schemes and sports activities can have an impact on those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Five Welsh councils already run similar schemes, and the Welsh government has announced that councils can access fresh funding for new ventures running in the next financial year, 2017-18.
The cash will be distributed in conjunction with the Welsh Local Government Association, with further details announced later in the year.
Fiona Kinghorn, interim director of Public Health for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, one of Food Cardiff’s partners, welcomed the announcement, saying:
“Some children experience inadequate nutrition during the school holidays and there is also the potential for loss of learning and social isolation.
We have long recognised that addressing these issues requires a collaborative, coordinated response at local level, underpinned by national policy. Therefore we welcome this news from Welsh Government, which sees a commitment to deliver support where it is most needed.”
The funding announcement was further praised by Sustainable Food Cities co-ordinator for Food Cardiff, Katie Palmer, who is involved in implementing the scheme, who said:
“We are thrilled with this news. Last summer, Food Cardiff worked with the Welsh Local Government Association to develop the Food and Fun model across Wales, in partnership with local councils and health boards.
The model, based on our pilot in Cardiff during summer 2015, delivered free school meals, food education and fun physical activities to children during the school break.”