A successful initiative to team healthy food with play is changing what school holiday hubs can offer families in Cherwell.
Working in partnership with Brighter Futures, Cherwell District Council and other local youth groups, Sanctuary Housing has piloted an initiative called Play:Full, where activity providers signed a pledge to include free food at events.
The ongoing project aims to ensure that children get nutritious lunches and healthy snacks, along with physical activity and stimulation, at the times when they are not receiving their free school meals and lessons.
Play:Full has supported 38 events so far, including four community meals and two play schemes, where 1,255 pieces of fruit, 630 wraps and 720 cereal bars were given out to children.
A local insight profile by Oxford City Council shows that 21 per cent of children are living in poverty in the Brighter Futures wards of Banbury, compared with 20 per cent across England.
Charlie Heritage, Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, said: “Whilst school holidays can be magical, for some parents, already tight budgets can be stretched.
“We wanted to offer a solution to this and support families to live happy and healthy lives, especially during times where there are lots of additional financial pressures.”
Activities supported by the initiative have included Science Sensation workshops and an educational trip to Warriner Farm, organised by the Sunshine Centre, where the children prepared and cooked a stew from vegetables that they had picked.
Parents were impressed that their children had eaten food that they wouldn’t usually try at home, including mushroom stroganoff and chilli-con-carne.
Others simply expressed delight in getting out the house; doing something different and seeing the children burn off energy through physical exercise.
This project is part-funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, supporting projects which benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.