Churches and Christian charities around Gloucestershire have been opening up holiday clubs and lunch clubs to feed children whose families are on tight budgets and give them a chance to meet and socialise during the six week summer holidays.
The Rock in Cheltenham has successfully provided four sessions over the summer, through Christian charity MakeLunch. As well as sharing lunch, the children have the chance to play team games, have a go at arts and crafts and make friends. People from the whole community have been volunteering and supporting the initiative, including people from the local churches and the young people who usually attend the Rock. MakeLunch takes place alongside a wide range of youth-focused holiday activities at the Rock.
Ali English, Community Engagement Worker at the Rock, said: “Some of the kids have been coming for every session and it’s a place where they can feel safe and enjoy some time away from home. Sometimes home life in the holidays can be quite erratic and the children enjoy the structure that we have here. It’s good for them to sit down at the table to share a meal.”
Ali hopes to run MakeLunch sessions in other holidays – the next one that she is hoping to hold is in the October half term, but she will need volunteers for the play team and the kitchen team and funding to make it happen. If you are able to help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In Cirencester, the Revd Kim Hartshorne at the Upper Room has been inviting people to the church’s fourth annual summer play scheme. She said, “A lot of the parents at our local school said that they didn’t meet up with each other in the summer holidays, so we decided to set up a play scheme. Volunteers include people from the church, mums and some teenagers who wanted to lead sports activities. The last one of the summer is this Thursday 24 August, 10am to 12 noon. The children have a healthy breakfast, including cereal, milk, fruit and pancakes and they play games like badminton, football and with hula hoops.
“They love it: For some it’s the main thing in their week – a lot of summer activities are very expensive and this is something that is accessible to everyone. It stops the families being fed up at home – the kids play, the mums catch up and even older people who live nearby drop in for a cuppa and a chat. It’s a real community hub.”
Jacquie Hyde, a vicar in Churchdown, told us about their holiday club in Innsworth, Gloucester. She said, “The long summer break is a real challenge for some families and the schools asked whether we could run a club including healthy lunches and some fun activities. We were able to do this in partnership with three other local churches, supported by Wiggly Worm (a local food charity), the Parish Council, and local schools.”