The breaks in the school year can be a pinch point for families in the city who suffer from holiday hunger, a reality which has only been exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis.
To address this and ensure that no child goes hungry outside of the school term a range of programmes will take place through the October half term providing kids with a host of fun activities to enjoy, as well as a good meal.
This has been made possible through additional funding provided by the Council, above and beyond what was put in place by the Government for out-of-term support.
From sports sessions to enjoying arts and crafts, there will be something for everyone free of charge for children aged between 5 and 15 in receipt of free school meals, provided by the Council and MCRactive.
This follows on from a successful Holiday and Food (HAF) programme which took place throughout the summer of 2023, where more than 15,000 children took part in more than 3,000 sessions throughout their holidays. Of these young people, 94% were in receipt of free school meals during term time.
Compared to the previous year there was a 20% increase in total engagements during the summer holiday programme, with a record 97,222 individual visits to the sessions.
Also, the 2023 summer holiday programme supported 971 children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) to take part in free, fun holiday activities.
On top of this, from October 31 libraries across the city will be opening their doors to people in need, offering a warm environment and a hot drink for as long as people need to combat the colder months. Last year more than 25,000 hot drinks were given away during the four-month period when our warm banks were operating, showing the huge importance of running this programme of support.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People, said: “Providing an additional net of support for young people in Manchester during the autumn is an incredibly important piece of work we do.
“We know that through the school year the balanced and healthy meals that children get in schools are vital, and that their absence during breaks in the term can be keenly felt.
“Building on our successes from 2022 we now have more than 100 HAF providers working throughout the year to provide the same excellent level of support and care, as well as helping children make some amazing memories with their friends.”
For more information about getting involved with October half term activities, residents can visit the Loads To Do website which provides details of the bookable ‘HAF’ programme and also of many more activities open to everyone.