Free Holiday Clubs are Essential for Families
A scheme which sees hard-pressed families given access to free holiday clubs during school holidays has been described as a "godsend" by one South Tyneside woman.
Sharon Lamb and her sons Zach, five, and three-year-old Lucas have made good use of the clubs run by the Council and its partners over the holidays which she says have been fun and enjoyable as well as a huge help in relieving boredom.
Funded by the Department for Education, the clubs are free to those aged between five and 16 who receive free school meals or whose families are experiencing financial hardship. The clubs, which include a free nutritious meal, are further evidence that the Council is delivering on its priority of supporting families.
Sharon, aged 48, of South Shields, said: "We used to do holiday activities through the children's centres when the boys were babies and toddlers. As they have got older, they love being out and about and are always asking where we are going.
"I contacted the Council to ask if Lucas could come along and they told me he was welcome at specific ones as long as he was supervised. That has made things so much easier and both boys have really enjoyed the activities."
Zach and Lucas have enjoyed mud kitchens, sandpits and a street-dancing class at Brockley Avenue Allotment as well as a range of games and crafts at the Sun Dial, Action Stations at Boldon Lane and at Marsden Health Centre. Both boys have both enjoyed a nutritious meal which is a core element of the holiday clubs.
Single parent Sharon added: "A friend raved about the holiday events last summer but Zach was too young to access them. This summer, as he is five, we have booked loads. I can honestly say they have been a godsend. It has been such a relief not having to worry about the cost of going out and entertaining them every day. I would normally have run out of money by now but this year I am managing OK and that's mainly because of these clubs.
"We will certainly be using these clubs again at other school holidays. I can't recommend them highly enough."
Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "With the cost of living crisis putting extreme pressure on families, it is fantastic to see the Summer holiday activities and food clubs providing some much-needed relief for families.
"These clubs are proving to be a lifeline for many families while their children have fun, learn new skills and make new friends."
The clubs are being run at various venues throughout the Borough until Friday 2 September. To find out more about the clubs or to book a place visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/holidayclub or email HAF@southtyneside.gov.uk