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There are 270 holiday clubs happening across Birmingham throughout the entire six-week holiday. They are completely free and also provide free food for kids.
This is one of the measures being put in place to support families over the school holidays . There are no food vouchers available for children during the summer so Birmingham City Council has commissioned the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme for families in all areas of the city.
Also known as Bring It On Brum, this will be the place to go for free meals and things to do. Youngsters will be able to take part in free fitness, sports, arts and crafts and music workshops.
Read more : Every benefit and support Birmingham parents can get over school holidays
"There will be 270 clubs across the city, making it an incredible place to be," said programme director Jenny Carter. "It will be a real blend of community provision.
"We had around 260 clubs in the pilot scheme last year so there's been an increase for 2022. It's the experience that's really grown since last year. There's an even greater ability to deliver programmes on everything from fitness and arts and crafts to music and nutritional education.
"And another variable is that it is now open to four to 16-year-olds rather than five to 16s like last year. We were really keen to ensure we have suitable provision for younger ages too."
Listen to our bumper summer holiday 2022 guide on the award-winning Brummie Mummies podcast here
Bring It On Brum, or the HAF programme, will feature holiday clubs in all areas of the city, offering a multitude of free activities for youngsters. Each child who attends will be given a free packed lunch or hot meal.
Holiday clubs will take place in leisure centres, youth services, schools, childcare settings and church groups and there is a real mixture of different things to do, including football, windsurfing, crafts, dance, rounders, cricket, literacy workshops, hula-hooping and traditional playground games.
The programme will embrace Commonwealth Game s fever too with trips being arranged for children to visit the Neighbourhood Festival Sites where they can watch the action on the big screens, sample some cultural food and take part in workshops about resilience, social interaction and wellbeing.
And there will also be some coaching sessions available, with children able to try out some of the Commonwealth Games sports within their holiday club settings.
Activities will run every week day of the summer holidays, except August Bank Holiday Monday. Timings for each centre and activity will vary depending on the provider.
Bring It On Brum is also working with Early Help to offer 'drop-in surgeries' in each district where families can ask questions about budgeting, funding and welfare.
Unlike last year, the HAF scheme is only available to children eligible for free school meals, due to Department for Education criteria on funding allocations.
And, as Jenny mentioned, the programme has been extended to four year olds, meaning any child on free school meals aged four to 16 is able to attend. Each eligible child is entitled to up to 16 days of holiday club time, or the equivalent of 64 hours, including free meals.
Jenny is aware that some families may be struggling due to the cost of living crisis but are not eligible for free school meals, meaning their children cannot attend the programme..
"This is our biggest concern and one we want to keep an eye on over the summer," she said. "We are also fast-forwarding to what that might look like by Christmas as we're expecting the spike to increase in autumn and onto Christmas.
"It's really challenging because the eligibility from the Department for Education is very clear. It is free school meal data they are using and they don't have flexibility over budget.
"Last year gave us an opportunity to test what would work. We targeted families universally and 32,000 children got involved. From an eligibility perspective, we needed to change that this year for funding requirements. So over the last 10 months we've been looking at blended providers that can reach as many families in need as possible.
"We encourage parents to still get in touch with us as we are able to refer them to Early Help. This service is part of Birmingham City Council which can signpost people to support from others. Bring it on Brum is a part of this, a pinch point that can help with other wraparound services."
BirminghamLive has launched #FoodSOS - an emergency call to action to increase the levels of support and signpost help those most in need. Find out more and how you can get involved here
Parents are also advised to speak directly to the providers offering holiday clubs and free food within their neighbourhood as many are part-funded from other sources, which enable them to take on children who aren't eligible for free school meals.
"Some groups have been fundraising," said Jenny. "This means that perhaps 60 of their children may be funded by HAF and 40 by other investments. Speak to your local groups to find out what's available. This can often be done through schools.
"Other groups are offering paid-for places or a chance to join for a donation. And a number are offering places for children eligible for tax-free childcare."
Food is either delivered each morning from a central hub or the activity providers arrange their own meals for the kids. This will be a mix of packed lunches and hot meals.
"Last year 60 percent of providers used our central food system and had deliveries each day," she said. "This reduced to 30 percent at Easter and is really growing with more community organisations looking to provide food themselves, which is really good news."
The website will go live for bookings on July 1, 2022. You can find out more and start booking places from July 1 here
Parents are advised to look out for HAF codes being issued by schools in the coming weeks, which they can use to make bookings easier. New activities will be added regularly so people are encouraged to log in often to check what's available.
Read more: School holiday dates mean Birmingham families could get cheaper holidays this summer
Read more : 45 money-saving tips to help with cost of living crisis
Podcast listen - Why Benefits Street's White Dee is helping young people in Birmingham
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