Listed below are the key learnings from the ‘A Day Out Not a Handout’ Project:
There was no single model of delivery that was better than the others. What did make the difference was local knowledge of the community and tailoring the programme to meet local need.
The projects were delivered in disadvantaged areas but were open to all, not just children receiving free school meals. This was important to reduce stigma and to make clubs inclusive.
The Local Authority’s internal processes were problematic as it was not possible for it to sign the Partnership Agreement and receive/distribute the funds within the very tight timescales. We ended up having individual agreements with the 4 delivery partners and passing the funding to them directly.
There was a need for some minimum standards to be set that all clubs adhered to. These included providing food to the School Food Standard and being open for at least 4 hours a day 4 days a week for 4 weeks of the summer holiday to have a sustainable and measurable impact on children’s health and wellbeing. Some clubs found the Children’s Food Trust website very useful for recipes and tips.
Staff took health and safety very seriously and all were aware of those children with allergies or specific dietary needs e.g. Halal, vegetarian.
It was important to have a balanced approach towards the food element of the project -to encourage experimentation with new foods in a fun way but not to the extent that children refused to eat them and created further food waste. A lot of children had strong feelings about ‘disgusting vegetables’ and ‘lumpy bits’ in meals.
Keeping paperwork to a minimum for parents/carers was important as well as planning for additional support when necessary e.g. 22 languages were spoken in one club as well as high levels of literacy issues among parents. Some clubs said that it would be useful to include a section on the consent forms about a child/family’s involvement with Children’s Social Care.
Several clubs used social media to advertise their club and to give parents/carers weekly updates and reminders. This was very successful and valued by parents.
Trips were very popular and most clubs made them available for children’s parents and younger siblings to attend as well. Some destinations give a year’s free access after an initial ticket has been purchased and several projects gave these tickets to families so they could visit again at no cost.
Clubs felt supported and supported each other during the project. Several commented on how much better it was to be part of a larger programme and not to work in isolation. Some areas planned to maintain and build on the relationships formed and to work together on similar projects in the future.