Welcare’s first ever ‘Food & Fun’ summer club was run this year, in partnership with Together Southwark and churches in the North Lambeth Deanery.
Around 20 families participated overall, taking part in weekly activities designed to help children and parents/carers work together, and promote positive communication between family members.
Participants were treated to a number of trips, as well as groups based indoors. London Zoo and Chessington world of adventures proved very popular with young and old members alike.
Summer Food & Fun is open to all, but with school holiday hunger growing in the UK, many participants are grateful for the chance to get out and about, and even just to get a healthy balanced meal.
‘Many children who are eligible for free school meals receive no support during the long summer holiday, and this can put a real strain on families,’ says Hannah Franklin, Child & Family Support Manager for Inner London. ‘Our Summer Food & fun club is open to all, but we realise everybody has a different budget… we provide a lunch so that parents and carers have one less thing to worry about.’
It is Welcare’s hope that this initiative can be helpful in the fight against holiday hunger, alongside initiatives like ‘Fit and Fed’, run this summer in Birkenhead and publicised by the BBC.
‘As well as promoting healthy eating, we’re reducing isolation for families – promoting family skills and communication through playing together. Holidays can be a sad and lonely time for many children and families, and we’re grateful to all our volunteer group assistants and cooks who help make these groups possible.’
In an exercise designed to promote mindfulness, children were read a book called ‘Counting my Blessings’, and then encouraged to write postcards expressing gratitude for what they had experienced. One participant said that the zoo was ‘an absolute highlight… I found myself at peace’, and expressed the hope of working there in the future.