Summer Holiday Clubs

During the summers of 2017 and 2018, we coordinated projects looking at the impact of summer holiday clubs across the North East of England.  

Summer 2018

In Spring 2018, we applied to the Department for Education to provide healthy food and activities for children and young people during the 2018 school summer holidays.

There is a growing bank of evidence to show that disadvantaged children, young people and their families often struggle to make ends meet, eat healthily and take part in stimulating activities and trips during school holidays.  Much of the evidence is anecdotal and the Department for Education funded this research project to gain further insight into different delivery models and the impact of holiday provision.

We were delighted to be one of seven successful applications and ran holiday clubs in primary and secondary schools in six Local Authorities across the North East.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

For most pupils, the end of the school summer term signals the start of holidays, days out and a chance to make memories with friends and family.  Other families, who might rely on the support provided by schools, are not so lucky.  These projects will provide a range of support for families during the summer break.  They will also give children access to experiences that won’t just create great memories but will help broaden their horizons and build the confidence they need to succeed in whatever path they choose to follow.


What we did:

We worked with over 600 children and young people.

We provided 3,660 healthy breakfasts and 7,095 healthy lunches.

Our programmes ran for a minimum of four hours a day, four days a week for four weeks of the summer holidays.

The programmes offered were imaginative, great fun and included lots of trips to challenge and inspire the children and young people.

From donkey painting to crate stacking, from going to the theatre to learning bushcraft skills.  There were so many brilliant activities.  Everyone was fed too – half the schools provided breakfast as well as lunch and many children took food home.

We ended the summer by putting the experiences of the children who took part into a book for the Department for Education:

2018 Summer Holiday Book

Also take a look at this video from our Northumberland cohort’s Summer of 2018:


Summer 2017

In 2016, the North East Child Poverty Trust (NECPT) commissioned a study, carried out by Debs Harrison, that found ‘holiday hunger’ was a key issue for struggling families.  NECPT and Children North East applied to Big Lottery for a grant to run a large-scale research project to examine the impact of activities and healthy food during the summer holidays of 2017.  The research partner was The Healthy Living Lab at Northumbria University, led by Professor Greta Defeyter.

Four lead partners across the region were selected to take on the delivery role, each working with four or five community organisations in their area.  The four areas where holiday clubs took place were North Tyneside, Newcastle, Darlington and Durham.

As part of the programme, and to help with the university’s research, 226 children completed food diaries comparing food and activities on days when they attended holiday club and days when they did not.  220 children were interviewed in focus groups about health, nutrition and well-being.   133 parents also completed questionnaires and took part in focus groups (64 parents) to explore the impact of holiday clubs on their isolation, financial strain and well-being.  77 staff (paid and voluntary) were interviewed about their development and wellbeing.  In addition, clubs completed programme planners, food record sheets, consent forms and registers to collect information and data required by The Big Lottery.

This short video explains the project and gives a flavour of the holiday clubs:

A celebration day, including dissemination of the key findings, took place in May 2018 at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle.  This short video of the day also summarises the research findings:


Useful Information

If you are thinking of running a holiday project please check our hints and tips, and learning from the project by following these links:

Hints and tips on how to run your own holiday club

Evaluation Report from Northumbria University

Other key learning from the project

Celebration Event Presentation by Professor Greta Defeyter

Celebration Event Presentation by Lindsay Graham