Celebrations at the Olive Tree Education HAF scheme
The council has been working with local organisations to offer holiday clubs full of free, fun activities and nutritious meals for children across Tower Hamlets.
By the end of the summer, the holiday and food activities (HAF) programme, funded by the Department for Education, will reach over 3,500 children across the borough, and provide over 50,000 meals.
On a recent visit, the Deputy Mayor was joined by Cabinet Members Councillors Saied Ahmed and Iqbal Hossain to visit a busy holiday club on the Isle of Dogs, run by Olive Tree Education.
The school holidays can create extra financial burdens for some families, especially those on lower incomes who will struggle to pay for organised events and activities for their children. Children can also experience social isolation if they are unable to join their friends and mix with other young people during the extended holiday period.
HAF clubs across the borough allow children the opportunity to socialise with other children in the community and enjoy lots of activities including sports and games, art, music and drama, as well as special day trips. All HAF clubs also provide a nutritious meal each day and a chance to increase knowledge about healthy eating and keeping active.
HAF clubs also engage with parents and carers and can offer specialist help and support including information and access to health, employment, education and other services.
Councillor Maium Talukdar, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning, said: “It’s been great to visit a number of the summer holiday schemes across the borough to see and hear about all the positive activities that our children and young people have been taking part in. We know that the long summer break can place extra financial pressures on local families. These clubs really help to lessen that burden, and of course are lots of fun for those taking part.”
Councillor Saied Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Cost of Living, said: “We are fortunate to work closely with local partners to provide lots of support for children and families throughout summer holidays. As well as hundreds of fun activities, the healthy and nutritious free meal is contributing to keeping our young people active, sociable and healthy.”
Fazlul Haque, Manager of Olive Tree HAF scheme, said: “Our programme has been a lifeline for so many local families who would not otherwise be able to pay for a similar scheme for their children during the summer holidays. The children and young people have really enjoyed taking part in lots of creative, artistic and sporting activities, having lots of fun, as well as boosting their confidence and social skills.”
The HAF scheme is focused on families that receive benefits-related free school meals, although where there are extra spaces available, other local children have been able to take part.
These clubs are just one of the programmes that have been running over the summer holidays. The council’s ‘Summer of Fun’ programme is providing more than 500 sessions of free activities for children and young people and supporting families to lessen the impact of the cost-of living crisis.
There are still some events and activities taking place in the final week of the holidays, so check out the website www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/summeractivities to find out more.
The recent visit to the Olive Tree Education HAF scheme took place on Wednesday 16 August.
Olive Tree Education’s summer HAF club offered places to children aged between 5-14 years and included outdoor and indoor activities, sports, arts and crafts, and healthy-eating workshops. Specific sessions included football, basketball, henna, cooking, jewellery and kite making, as well as workshops on mental health and bullying. The holiday scheme ended with a day trip to Bournemouth.
Their free sessions ran for 12 days for 4 hours per day with a nutritious meal provided to each attendee. Staff also signposted parents, guardians and families to additional wraparound services and support that the council and partners provide for residents in the borough.
Olive Tree Education is based on the Isle of Dogs and provides a range of education, guidance, and access to training to develop their participant’s skills and knowledge to help improve their self-esteem, confidence, and career development opportunities.
Posted on Wednesday 30th August 2023