Skip to main content
18 Mar 2021 | 15:15

StreetGames and Active Partnerships are part of a new group of 16 community interest organisations who have come together to form the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Alliance.

The two organisations, key network members of the Sport for Development Coalition, have joined the HAF Alliance to help local authorities make a success of the Government’s expanded Holiday Activities and Food programme, backed by £220million, and maximise benefits for children, families and communities who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The HAF Alliance also features other organisations with extensive experience of working with children and young adults, community groups and the education sector to alleviate inactivity, food poverty and social inequalities, including the food poverty charities FareShare, Feeding Britain and the Food Foundation. Last year, the Food Foundation worked closely with Marcus Rashford (pictured below) and his End Child Food Poverty Taskforce to call for the Holiday Activity and Food Programme to be extended to all areas of England and to all children on free school meals.


A range of experts are backing the new Alliance including Children and Families Minister, Vicky Ford MP, and policy advisor to No 10 on the National Food Strategy, Henry Dimbleby. The HAF Alliance is calling on local authorities to use the collective knowledge and support of the Alliance for strategic planning advice, implementation and evaluation as they prepare to deliver the Department for Education’s (DfE) HAF programme in England this summer.

Jane Ashworth OBE, founder of StreetGames and Board member of the Sport for Development Coalition, said: “We have a perfect opportunity to use the energy of the 16 HAF Alliance members to motivate local authorities to go beyond a minimum-standards approach to HAF 2021 for children and young people and build a platform for future delivery. We’re urging all local authorities to get in touch with us now through in time for the summer holidays.”

Each member organisation of the HAF Alliance has been involved in the delivery and evaluation of Government-funded holiday activities and food pilot programmes over the past three years for children who receive benefits-related free school meals.

Marcus Rashford

School holidays can be particular pressure points for some families because of the increased costs of food and childcare and reduced incomes. For some children that can lead to a holiday experience gap, with children from disadvantaged families less likely to access organised out-of-school activities and be more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health.

The HAF programme responds to these issues by providing optional free holiday provisions to children with consistent and easy to access enrichment activities as well as nutritious meals.

Professor of Developmental Psychology at Northumbria University, Greta Defeyter, is one of the founding members of the Alliance. She said: “The importance of an enriching holiday experience for all children cannot be under-estimated, especially following a year in which large numbers of children have not physically attended school due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


“This summer, it is more important than ever that children, especially those living in areas of social deprivation, have access to best-in-class holiday programmes. This means a well-structured day full of fun activities that enable children and young people to learn new skills, socialise with friends, and enjoy nutritious food in a safe environment.”

The Alliance member organisations are united by a mission that the poorest children and young people should enjoy healthy, active, safe and enriching school holiday programmes where parents are confident their children can enjoy time with friends, have a healthy meal, try fun activities and develop new skills and build confidence so that they’re ready to return to school.

The new £220million grant funding is allocated to 151 top-tier English local authorities to spend in 2021 on six weeks of free holiday club provision with food and activities for children and young people, aged five to 16, who are eligible for free school meals.

Many local authorities have been severely stretched by the pandemic over the past year and may not yet have delivered the kind of play and youth holiday provision that is the ideal model for HAF programmes. The Alliance hopes that in sharing its expertise and best practice, it can help local authorities to develop and deliver high-quality holiday programmes for their local communities.


Pic credit: FareShare.