Supporting eligible children and young people across Essex and Thurrock through free activities
Providing free clubs for eligible families during half terms and holidays, Essex ActivAte supports the physical, mental and social wellbeing of children and young people through the provision of physical activity, enrichment sessions, food education and a nutritious meal.
Funded by Department for Education through the ‘Levelling Up’ initiative, Essex ActivAte is the holiday activity and food programme delivered across the county. The programme aims to engage and support primary and secondary school children who are eligible for benefit based free school meals, through free activity clubs during the easter, summer and winter holidays. Additional mental wellbeing and SEND clubs are also offered, providing children with specialist support.
Essex County Council recognised the need for free activities during smaller half terms in February, May and October, therefore allocated funding to help support families further with additional, limited spaces for children from ‘low-income’ working households, children in care or at risk.
The programme delivers approximately 200 clubs during the holidays, and 80 clubs during smaller half terms. All clubs provide different types of physical and enrichment activities, at least one substantial meal, food education and continuous support and guidance for households.
Providing children with memorable and life-long holiday experiences
Making It Mindful
Supporting families through mindfulness and movement
Providing physical activity to support children's mental wellbeing
Yellow Door HAF
Supporting secondary school children through free activities, guidance and life skills
Growth of Maldon HAF
Essex ActivAte expands within the Maldon community
Tiny Rugby School
Engaging Tendring families through physical, enrichment and food activities
The impact of the Essex ActivAte and HAF programme
Essex ActivAte launched in January 2021, building on the success of the 2020 Essex County Council funded summer holiday programme.
Following feedback from parents, carers and delivery partners in 2022, Essex ActivAte ensured that most clubs delivered between 4-8 hours each day, offering extra support for working parents and providing a range of exciting activities for young people to enjoy, decreasing the holiday activity deprivation that many families face.
During the summer 2022 programme, 200 sunscreen boards were provided by Essex ActivAte clubs to ensure children were protected against sunburn and educated on sun safety. 10,000 packs of vegetable seeds were also given to eligible families, allowing them to grow their own food and reduce waste. Following the summer programme, three mental wellbeing, family-fun festivals were also held to promote positive mental health and encourage family wellbeing activities, engaging over 400 young people and their families. The success of the mental wellbeing specialist camps was also presented at the East of England MIND conference, as a best practice model.
As well as providing holiday clubs during the winter 2022 programme, Essex ActivAte funded additional Christmas experiences, allowing parents and children to enjoy new experiences and make amazing memories. This included pantomime and theatre experiences, local attraction visits, winter-themed activities such as ice-skating and visits from Father Christmas.
Food Education Programme
The Household Support Fund supported the Essex ActivAte delivery by providing Food Education programmes to households across the county, including children and young people. Local communities came together to learn different recipes, how to cook a healthy meal on a budget, and the importance of home-cooked food. At the end of the programme, each family was funded an air-fryer or slow-cooker to take home, supporting them with their energy bills.
"I have been delighted by the way that the Food Education programme has worked and the support that so many clubs and organisations have been able to provide to the families who have attended, offering both practical support around food and friendship to so many people within Essex communities!"Cheryl Lomas - Assistant Relationship Manager for North Essex
During the Easter 2023 programme, oral health packs, activity and family support booklets were given to young people to keep them engaged at home during the holidays. Supported by Community Dental Services, packs contained a toothbrush, toothpaste and teeth cleaning chart, allowing providers to implement the importance of oral hygiene, also showing how to make brushing a fun experience at home.
Skate Jam Events
Across 2022, 11 skate jam events and 5 cycling workshops were also held at Essex ActivAte clubs, allowing children and families to use their community green spaces, try wheel-based activities and engage in physical activity, learning new skills along the way whilst socialising with the local community.
Further Community Support
The Essex ActivAte programme worked closely with the Youth Sport and Crime Prevention team and the Active Essex Foundation, to ensure activities were provided in all areas across the county, engaging young people at risk and from hard to reach groups. The programme delivered activities such as music workshops, boxing courses and sport drop in sessions at local green spaces.
Other services such as local libraries, family support groups and emergency services have also continued to support the Essex ActivAte programme in the wider community and have also provided interactive and education learning days at local HAF clubs.