Interview - Rosie Oglesby, national director of Feeding Britain
Monday, August 6, 2018
The charity has been awarded a share of a £2m DfE grant to pilot activities and healthy food in disadvantaged areas for families during the summer holidays
Why is it important to provide holiday clubs in the summer?
Summer holidays should be an exciting time for children, with six weeks of freedom and fun. Most parents, on the other hand, know what a challenge it is to keep their kids occupied, as even local trips and activities for a family can cost a small fortune.
For low-income families, the holidays can be a difficult time. Budgets are already stretched, and there isn’t any spare money available for the extra costs of food and activities.
Those families who are reliant on free school meals find that this support disappears in the holidays, and we hear lots of stories of families missing meals or filling up on food that has little nutritional value.
Holiday clubs can play a big part in preventing children going hungry in the summer holidays, but more than this, they also provide the opportunity for children to make friends, be active and to learn new skills and gain new experiences in a safe environment.
Tell us about this year’s holiday projects.
We’ve been able to support 79 different community groups to run holiday clubs this year, with projects aimed at children of all ages, and with all kinds of different themes.
We have lots of clubs running arts and crafts activities – slime and gloop have been very popular with the little ones this year – as well as physical activities. One club is running a family bootcamp where the families all work out together then sit down for a healthy dinner.
Our projects have also been successful at bringing different generations together. Yesterday I was at a club in Leicester where an older volunteer was teaching knitting to a group of young mums and their kids. I also really love to see children getting involved in growing or cooking food, and we’ve been able to help groups run projects in gardens and allotments.
The weather has been amazing this summer, and we’ve been able to do lots of outdoor activities and games. Some of our projects are going on trips to the beach, which will be the first time some of the children have ever seen the sea.
We want to ensure that when children go back to school they are ready to learn, and when they are asked what they did this summer, they have a great story to tell.
How do you decide which families and children are able to take part in the scheme?
Feeding Britain doesn’t determine who takes part in the holiday schemes. It’s crucial there is no stigma attached to attending our clubs. We target our provision in areas of high deprivation, and we use local networks to spread the word to the people who will really benefit, but anyone is welcome.
What is the next stage of the programme?
The information that we’ve collected from this summer’s projects will tell us a lot about what works well, and how best to run a massive programme like this. We’ll be able to provide information to the Department for Education about the children that we’ve reached, which will in turn help them to shape the next phase of the pilot.
A club leader I spoke to yesterday summed it up well. He said, ‘It’s been brilliant. Stressful, but brilliant. And I’ll definitely do it again.’