GUEST BLOG: ENDING THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF SCHOOL HOLIDAYS ON THE MOST VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
In 2017, its estimated that up to 3 million children and young people suffer from the effects of Holiday Hunger.
The most vulnerable families suffer the most. The disruption to the routine that the lengthier school holidays create, significantly contributes to the widening the health inequalities gap.
In terms of current solutions to Holiday Hunger – what typically happens is that highly committed organisations such as ‘Food Redistribution Organisations’, Food Banks, and inspirational Head Teachers and Faith Leaders combine to rescue the situation as best they can – and their work is essential.
However, it’s time to sort the issue of Holiday Hunger for good, by acting on 2 recommendations:
- Statutory services and their commissioners must think creatively around its budgets and its partnerships to provide free Easter and summer school provision in up a quarter of schools or equivalent community settings – in our most vulnerable communities
- Healthy School interventions at a national and local level should shift their attention from a 100% focus on term time to delivery spread throughout the calendar year, enabling positive holiday plans to be created for vulnerable families
By taking action, we can:
*Provide healthy food for children and young people who need it the most
*Offer them curriculum enrichment activities – both academic and physical activity
*Monitor safeguarding issues
*Maintain routines for ease of transition to the next school term
*Check in with parents around money management issues, and benefits checks
*And … in austere times, create and build exciting partnerships that will provide far more than eating food. At Charlton Manor Primary School in south east London for example, children attending Summer School, learn to prepare and cook their own meals as part of the programme of activities. This sort of innovative approach may in the longer term be the most exciting outcome of all
As Tim Baker – the Head Teacher at Charlton Manor Primary School states: “we can’t afford not to provide Summer School – it’s about getting creative with the challenge of holiday hunger”.
This blog has been written by Elemental advisor, Phil Veasey as part of ‘The Impact Of Social And Economic Inequalities On Children’s Health’ report. Click to download the full report.