Children in Wigan Borough continue to be fit and fed this half term thanks to a Covid-safe way of working.
Wigan Council adapted its delivery approach in order to continue offering the popular Fit and Fed programme, now known as the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, which provides school holiday food and activities for eligible children.
In line with government guidance, physical activities as well as art, craft and dance sessions will be delivered in bubbles throughout the Easter holiday period in partnership with Premier Education, Wigan Athletic Community Trust, Wigan Warriors Community Foundation and Wigan Youth Zone.
A nutritious lunch will also be provided each day by Metrofresh.
Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council said: “When the pandemic threatened to thwart this invaluable service, we needed to re-think how it would be delivered.
“The programme provides a safe space for some of our young people where they can try out new activities and through delivering the scheme over the years, we know the children involved really love the opportunities this programme gives them.”
As a result of grant funding, the local authority has been able to engage more children this year and can fulfil its obligation to provide a minimum of six weeks provision for families throughout 2021.
However, Wigan Council is keen to go further and has ambitions to deliver the programme throughout the Easter and May half-terms as well as the summer holidays.
Prof. Ardern added: “The pandemic has put pressure on many families, which is why this programme is so important – arguably more so now when children have experienced significant changes to their usual routine.
“The Holiday Activity and Food Programme keeps children connected with each other and helps them to discover new skills through a varied calendar of activity.”
Usually, the scheme is overseen by Inspiring healthy lifestyles, the borough’s health and wellbeing organisation, which came back under the wing of the local authority earlier this month.
However, this year council has also commissioned other wellbeing organisations to broaden the activities available.
Danny Melling from Premier Education said: “We have been delivering holiday camps, school sport and physical activity in Wigan & Leigh for the past 15 years and we are excited to be teaming up with Wigan Council to support this fantastic initiative. We fully recognise and champion the positive impact that sport & physical activity can have on young people and we are passionate about providing high quality opportunities & experiences to as many children as possible. Enabling children to be active, socialise and have fun in a safe environment after the impact of Covid-19 is at the top of our agenda and demonstrates what can be achieved by working together.”
The programme also benefits from long-standing partnerships with the voluntary sector, with community organisations continuing to support sessions.
Head of Community at Wigan Athletic, Tom Flower, said: “Despite the challenges faced around Covid-19 restrictions, we’re delighted to be working with Wigan Council in delivering a number of sport and play activities for young people during the Easter holidays and for the rest of the year.
“The collaboration between us and council will improve the health of youngsters and will ensure they keep active during the holidays whilst also making sure they get something to eat during the day when they are not in school.”
If you work in a school not currently accessing this programme but would like to, please email HAF@wigan.gov.uk