Bridging the holiday experience gap for kids in Kent

Mar 09, 2022 | News

Swallows Leisure Centre, Sheppey Leisure Complex, Maidstone Leisure Centre, Tenterden Leisure Centre and Meopham Leisure Centre ran schemes in the summer last year, then again at Christmas, with over 4,000 spaces allocated to local kids, who benefitted from free, nutritious meals plus fun activities for them and their parents.

These programmes aimed to support children in receipt of free school meals during holiday periods. Research has shown that the school holidays can be pressure points for families, and for some children this can lead to a holiday experience gap, with those from low-income households being:

• less likely to access organised out-of-school activities.
• more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health.
• more likely to experience social isolation.

The range of activities on offer was quite broad, ranging from Circus Skills and Medieval Workshops to Pantomime Shows and athletes from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust providing sporting and nutritional advice, as well as a Festive Playscheme offered over Christmas.

James Reynolds, Serco Leisure’s Partnership Manager for Kent said:

“I’d like to thank our lead partner Swale Community Leisure who in collaboration with the Maidstone Leisure Trust, Tenterden Leisure Centre Trust and Meopham Sport and Leisure Association have helped us to deliver this programme of events. Swale Community Leisure’s lead role was the cornerstone of this project, so special thanks must go to their Chief Executive Officer, Dave Harcourt.

“I’d also like to thank the Education People and Kent County Council, who provided support on this important inclusion project.”

Dave Harcourt, Chief Executive Officer, Swale Community Leisure, added:
“I’m delighted at the success of these schemes both from a numerical viewpoint, welcoming hundreds of kids and their parents into our centres, but just as importantly the meals we’ve provided and activities we’ve offered mean so many children in this area are now getting the school holiday experience they deserve.

“These sessions weren’t all about fun though. We wanted this programme to have a lasting impact; we involved parents and ran nutrition and cooking workshops so they’d come away from the day with new skills and new knowledge they could use in the future.

Find out more about Sheppey Leisure Complex and Swallows Leisure Centre.