HAPpy Easter Holidays for Hundreds of Children

During the Easter Holidays, thousands of free, daily places at holiday activity camps were made available by sports clubs and organisations across the county as part of HAPpy: Hertfordshire’s Holiday Activity Programme.

Spanning eight days in total, the activities formed part of a Department of Education funded initiative led by Hertfordshire County Council. Coordinated by the Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership (HSP) and Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF), HAPpy catered for children aged 5 to 16 and in receipt of free school meals. HAPpy was all about ensuring that children who might normally miss out on the opportunity to attend holiday activities – often precluded by cost – could access the same high-quality provisions as their peers.

Each four-hour activity offered a combination of sport and physical activity, enrichment activities including arts and crafts and an all-important hot meal.

HSP’s Director John O’Callaghan, was proud that the Partnership was selected to coordinate the scheme, which will run again for four weeks during the summer and a week at Christmas. He explained:

‘The inequality gap in our communities has widened further over the past twelve months and while many families were excited at what the easing of lockdown for the Easter holidays might bring, there are still thousands who saw this as a daunting time. We know that holiday hunger is always of grave concern; this coupled with more isolation for children was something we needed to do our upmost to avoid.’

He continued:

‘We are incredibly grateful to all of those organisations who opened their doors. We, and they, are now turning our attentions to an upscaled programme for the summer.’

ProFormance Global, led by Harry O’Riordan offered a four-day football camp for 40 children at Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club. Harry said:

‘I just wanted to say that we loved delivering as part of the HAPpy programme last week! The camp was amazing, and it was really good to see the children playing football and making new friends! We were fully subscribed every day and the children had a truly fantastic time. We organised our bubbles ahead of time and had the whole pitch at our disposal to ensure that the children could experience the camp at its best and play freely with their friends.’

A-Z Basketball ran projects at Ridgeway Academy in Welwyn Garden City for U12s and U17s. At the end of the camp, one parent emailed the Partnership to say:

‘I just wanted to say how fantastic the A-Z Basketball sessions were. My son was originally only booked on for one day, but he enjoyed it so much he asked to go every day that it was on.  The coaching staff were really good, and he had lots of fun with them. We are really hoping that there will be more sessions in the future.’

Commenting on the HAPpy programme, HCF Foundation Director, Helen Gray added,

‘For over 30 years, HCF has worked with local philanthropists to tackle a broad range of social need through its grant making programmes. We are aware that a growing number of local families are facing poverty as the ongoing impact of Covid-19 is felt across Hertfordshire and so we are delighted to be supporting this much needed programme.’

Hertfordshire County Council’s Operations Director for Children & Young People, Jo Fisher added:

‘We’re delighted with the success of the HAPpy programme over the Easter holidays and that so many children and young people in Hertfordshire were able to access sessions, whether remotely or face-to-face. Providers went above and beyond to ensure activities could be delivered in a Covid-19 secure way and we can now look forward to welcoming even more children to take part in face-to-face activities during the Summer holidays.

It’s vital that children and young people can build their confidence and get opportunities to learn about healthy food and lifestyles; these are key elements of the HAPpy programme. A big thank you to our partners at the Herts Sports Partnership and Hertfordshire Community Trust for helping us to deliver this programme.’

HAPpy is promoted to parents through schools, on social media and by direct email from Hertfordshire County Council. Organisations interested in providing an activity during the summer should email haf@herts.ac.uk.

For more information about opportunities to deliver during the summer, including links to the funding application, visit HAPpy: Hertfordshire’s Holiday Activity Programme.