Free holiday club for children offers 'lifeline' to families in Swindon

  • Watch Verity Wishart's report here.

A holiday club in Swindon is offering free meals and activities to children from disadvantaged backgrounds over the school holidays.

The ‘Just for Fun’ holiday club has enrolled on the government's 'Holiday and Food Programme', which enables them to provide food and a host of activities to children free of charge.

Ten thousand children are currently eligible for free holiday provision in Swindon.

Swindon Borough Council receives a fund of £775,000 towards the programme.

One of the parents told ITV News West Country "It can be just a bit of a struggle, just to make sure that they are being fed good quality food, but also that they're happy and sometimes during the summer and it is quite a long summer, they want to be with other kids."

'Just for Fun' owners, Mike Jones and Sean Harper

Sean Harper, Co-Owner of 'Just for Fun' said it's great to give something back to the community.

"It's just really important that they've got something to do and no child should be disadvantaged from attending a holiday club like ours.

"We just love to be able to offer something for them, so that they don't feel different or left out."

Children attending have also praised the scheme, "I feel really good because there are other kids to play with. There's lots of activities, nice food - it's just amazing", said Ardiyah.

Cllr Jim Grant, Cabinet Member for Communities & Joint Working told ITV News West Country the scheme "contributes to giving kids from deprived backgrounds a better start in life so their lives are not detrimentally impacted by the fact they come from a deprived background.

Cllr Jim Grant, Cabinet Member for Communities & Joint Working said the scheme 'contributes to giving kids a better start in life.'

"I think the more we do on this as a council, the better it will be for the future of Swindon."

School-aged children from any of the following categories are eligible to access the programme:

  • Children in receipt of benefits related to free school meals

  • Children in need (must have a social worker working with the child)

  • Child protection

  • Young carers

Providers are calling for the funding to be extended to allow the scheme to continue throughout the school year.

"At the moment it's only offered Christmas, Summer and Easter so if the funding was to go throughout the whole school year, I feel that would be better for everyone. All the holidays are taken care of", said Sean.