Children and Young People

Essex ActivAte

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.

HAF Whos it for
Whos it for
Children and young people who receive benefit based free school meals, or who are from low-income working families
HAF Prime
Prime objective
Provide different physical, enrichment and food activities, as well as a nutritious meal
EA Second
Second objective
Support families across the county with resources, guidance and signposting

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.

of parents reported a positive impact on their child’s physical and mental health after attending an Essex ActivAte club
of parents said the clubs supported their own mental wellbeing
of children were not previously doing 60 minutes of physical activity during the holiday, recommended by the chief medical officer
Children and Young People


Providing children with memorable and life-long holiday experiences

Children and Young People

Making It Mindful

Supporting families through mindfulness and movement

Making It Mindful 1
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Chat 1st

Providing physical activity to support children's mental wellbeing

Chat 1st
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Yellow Door HAF

Supporting secondary school children through free activities, guidance and life skills

Yellow Door HAF
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Growth of Maldon HAF

Essex ActivAte expands within the Maldon community

Maldon HAF Programme 1
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Tiny Rugby School

Engaging Tendring families through physical, enrichment and food activities

Tiny Rugby School
Children and Young People

Coaching Champions

Supporting families through food education and physical activity

Coaching Champions 1
Engaging over 31,000 young people

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.

"My seven year old son attended clubs last year but can be extremely shy and feels uncomfortable without his older sister. This year he's asked and managed to go without her and done additional sessions on his own too! This is huge for him, and although he talks extremely well, he sometimes chooses not to talk and can be a selective mute. So for him to feel comfortable enough to go back without the his sister is massive for him, as well as us as a family! He especially enjoyed the activities such as gymnastics, archery and wall climbing."
Parent from Tendring

Summer 2022

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.

Engaging children across the 6 weeks holidays

Winter 2022

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.

winter food hampers given out to support families most in need during the cost-of-living crisis
meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner, to support eligible children, reducing food poverty and family hunger
additional funded spaces were delivered to families to provide memorable christmas experiences
Families have stated that this Christmas break is the most challenging, due to the change in routine and Christmas build up. Around one third of families stated this was their 'best Christmas yet', as their child kept a routine coming to clubs and they were able to cope with the changes better than usual. The hampers were also very popular with families due to the current cost-of-living crisis!
SEND Delivery Partner - Chelmsford
Supporting families to make lifelong, festive memories

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.

allocated from the Household Support Fund
Food Education programmes delivered
households supported, including young people
"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
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Easter 2023

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.

oral health packs
children and young people activity booklets
family resource and support booklets
“Designing over 40,000 activity and support booklets have kept families and children engaged and supported with resources and guidance during term times and holidays. It’s fantastic to also see providers encouraging children to try different activities in our activity booklets at their clubs, seeing them heading out to local green spaces and try scavenger hunts and other games from the booklet!”
Bethany Higgins - Marketing and Communications Officer for Essex ActivAte

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.

Bringing local communities together through physical activity

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.

Providing inactive communities with safe spaces to be active