Annual report 2022 to 2023

1 - Context of the programme

HAF Coordinator:         Ben Baker, Development Manager

The Holiday activities and food programme 2022 was delivered through a diverse range of activity providers across East Sussex. The aims of the programme were in line with the national aims, of wanting children who attend provision to:

  • eat healthily over the school holidays
  • be active during the school holidays
  • take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and well-being along with their wider educational attainment
  • be safe and not to be socially isolated
  • have a greater knowledge of health and nutrition
  • be more engaged with school and other local services

We also want to ensure that the families who take part in this programme:

  • develop their understanding of nutrition and food budgeting
  • are signposted towards other information and support, for example, health, employment, and education

Overall HAF funding received for 2022:       £1,649,770

Administrative costs:            £164,978

Programme expenditure:      £1,484,792

Number of unique children who participated in our HAF programme for each holiday period:

  • Easter 2022 – 1,510 primary-aged and 331 secondary-aged = 1,841

 Of the above, 343 had SEND.

  • Summer 2022 – 2,979 primary-aged and 1,493 secondary-aged = 4,472

Of the above 794 attendees had SEND.

  • Winter 2022 – 1,728 primary-aged and 473 secondary-aged = 2,201

Of the above 344 had SEND.


For Easter and summer holiday periods, we listed details of available HAF activities on the ESCC website. Each individual provider took their own bookings, and the listings explained the booking process. We shared the link to the webpage of listings with all our schools asking them to signpost their eligible families and encourage booking.

Other marketing included:

  • sharing the link with Children’s Services colleagues and partner organisations working with vulnerable children
  • posting on our Information for Families and East Sussex County Council social media channels.
  • providers using their own social media and existing mailing lists

For the winter holiday period, providers listed their offer on a central booking platform (EEQU). We collated these to create an East Sussex County Council HAF organisation page on the platform. The link to this page was then shared as before. This time, families were able to book HAF provision online via this central platform. Schools running their own HAF provision contacted families directly.

Through the introduction of this booking platform, we have created a mailing list to promote future HAF provision. We included a consent question within the booking process. This allows us to use bookers’ email addresses to inform them of future HAF activities.

We also promoted HAF provision through wider events, including:

  • the East Sussex Services to Schools conference
  • a Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing event at Sussex university
  • a twilight session with school governors

Information regarding HAF provision has been shared via various service and staff newsletters internally, for example the Family Focus, Reach Out e-bulletin. Also to external partners, through the extensive Children and Young People’s Trust mailing list.

Steering groups

Since the launch of the programme in 2021, we have had 3 separate steering groups who have helped shape our HAF offer.

Internal working group (IWG) – Collaboration with internal colleagues in Children’s Services informed the development of the HAF programme. We benefitted from the experience and knowledge acquired through other local authority and external partner programmes and the understanding colleagues have of the HAF eligible families.

 This group comprises representatives from internal teams including:

  • Communication, planning and performance, Assistant Director
  • Early help (0 to 19) service
  • ISEND service
  • Early Years educational entitlement and funding Manager
  • Early Years improvement service
  • Funding and partnerships
  • Information management
  • Family focus
  • Marketing and communications
  • Policy manager for third sector partnerships
  • Schools Standards, learning and effectiveness service
  • Equality, participation, and strategic partnerships
  • Children’s Social Care

Partnership advisory group (PAG) – Engagement with some of our strategic partners helped ensure that our HAF offer met the needs of our communities.

This group was made up of representatives from:

  • Sussex Community Foundation Trust Healthy Schools team
  • NHS Sussex commissioners
  • Public Health – Health Improvement Principal
  • Active Sussex
  • Sussex Clubs for Young People
  • Education Futures Trust
  • Optivo – Southern Housing
  • Sussex Community Foundation
  • YMCA Downslink Group
  • Amaze

Grant assessment panel – This included both internal colleagues and external partners including representatives from:

  • Communication, planning and performance, Assistant Director
  • Equality, participation, and strategic partnerships Lead and team
  • Family focus team
  • External funding team
  • Early years education improvement and funding Lead
  • Economic development team
  • Active Sussex

Additional funding and support

  • COMF 

Additional programmes during half-term: The positive impact of HAF delivery in late 2021 and early 2022 provided evidence to support successful bids for additional funding. Activities that followed the HAF model were funded through the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF). We used our HAF providers to deliver the activities during the February and May half terms in 2022. Across the two holidays, more than 60 local providers delivered activities with more than 10,000 sessions taking place.

  • Supermarkets

Many providers developed links with their local stores, and received donations of fresh fruit and veg or other healthy food items. Waitrose nationally identified the HAF programme as a focus for support over the summer. The Crowborough store also provided donations of £250 each to several of their closest HAF providers. Sainsbury’s donated food to one of our providers in Newhaven.

  • South Downs National Park 

Worked closely with one of our existing HAF providers, Make Good Trouble (MGT) and jointly funded MGT’s summer programme. The National Park had funding to encourage teenagers to get outdoors over the summer. This linked in with the HAF programme Make Good Trouble had planned. The partnership proved successful, culminating in the production of a short video and podcast by the young people involved. The organisations are looking to continue the sessions in some way, without HAF funding.


Delivered cycle safety sessions within HAF summer sessions across the county. As part of this, they provided bikes for young people to try, for free.

  • East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

Provided physical activity sessions within summer HAF provision. They used emergency service equipment to incorporate a fire safety message. This particularly supported providers who felt less confident delivering the physical activity elements of the HAF programme. It also helped providers to develop their own skills in relation to the delivery of physical activity. ESFRS reached a wider audience of young people over the holidays, as much of this engagement work is normally delivered in term time via schools.

  • Public Health Healthy Habits team and Chartwells

Both organisations supported HAF providers by delivering healthy eating workshops.

2 - Highlights of 2022

Girl outdoors in a playground wearing face paint and smiling.
Photo by Make (Good) Trouble

Holiday activities and food 2022 highlights from Make (Good) Trouble

Feedback from parents, carers, providers and young people has highlighted the positive impact of HAF attendance on young people.

Many providers experienced positive engagement with nutritional education and food preparation. One parent commented, “I loved that today they had food tasting and my son got to try foods he wouldn’t want to try at home.”

Participation by schools

During this second year of HAF we have seen an increasing number of schools involved in the programme. Over 40 schools hosted provision on their site in 2022. This was either by organising provision themselves or partnering with an activity provider.

Development of local partnerships

The second year of HAF delivery enabled the further development of local partnerships. The HAF funding was a catalyst for local projects and collaborations between a wide range of organisations, including:

- VCSE partners

- Arts and Culture sector

- District and Borough councils

3 - Children and families' feedback

In feedback from the summer 2022 programme, 96% of parents thought that their children had had a good time and been in a safe environment.  We asked them to rate a range of given statements to indicate if they agreed with them or not. The chart below shows the results.

Bar chart on What did you think of the holiday club? My children had a good time, 96% agreed. It was a safe environment, 96% agreed. The location was convenient, 92% agreed. There was a good range of activities, 93% agreed. My children made new friends, 90% agreed. My children tried/ learnt new things, 92% agreed. The club helped me with childcare, 81% agreed. I could find out how to get support if needed, 57% agreed.
Parent and carer feedback

Feedback from children and families has been positive. It has highlighted the impact of the programme on both physical and mental health.

They've all bothered to find out what [my child’s special] needs were, how could they be best accommodated. So for me, the best thing about all the clubs, they haven't ticked the box just to say they're inclusive - they have actually been very inclusive at every level in terms of the welcoming, the extra time and focus they’re providing … You can't expect more than that as a parent. It's like they really, very quickly have understood him, understood what he needs, and you don't have any worries leaving him.

Parent, Uckfield

It's showing you how easy it is to be more social. It's a free event and you can have a laugh. You can meet more friends and meet more people. It shows you how easy it is to be more interactive in the community

Child, Hastings

This farm opens up a new world for children who are not fortunate enough to know about farm and country life. It opens opportunities and choices that they would not experience any other way. My children are ASD and on a SGO, so nature is very important to the children. These programmes are life changing for families like mine.

Carer, Uckfield

It was a great day out, a treat!! My child got to experience a lot of what Bowles had to offer....the staff were wonderful and all the kids had great fun doing what kids should be doing...playing outside, learning new skills, team building, building their own confidence....the meal provided sounded delicious and thanks go out to all the are helping build kids and build happy memories!! Perfect!!

Parent, Crowborough area

Cold and muddy but lots of fun!

Child, Hastings

4 - List of providers

  • 1066 Kids Club
  • Active Hastings
  • Active Primary Sports
  • Albion in the Community
  • All Abroad Bus
  • Art (create and colour) by Vicky Craggs
  • Arts on Prescription
  • Audio Active
  • Bowles Rocks Trust
  • Box Hiit Amateur Boxing Club CIC
  • Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd (Now Create Music)
  • Butterfly Nursery Ltd
  • Christchurch
  • Claverham Sports Centre
  • Collingwood and Trafalgar School Club (CATS CLUB) 
  • Community Fishing4fun
  • Community Stuff CIC
  • Compass Community Arts
  • Cradle Hill School
  • Craft'd Bus
  • Creation Station
  • Culture Shift
  • De La Warr Pavilion
  • Defiant Sports CIC
  • Dr C's Electro Labs
  • East Sussex County Council – Buzz Active
  • East Sussex Library Service
  • East Sussex School of Circus Arts
  • East Sussex Youth Service (internal)
  • Eastbourne Academy
  • Eat Fresh and Feel Good
  • Educraft
  • EFT (Education Futures Trust)
  • East Sussex County Council Children’s Social Care Children in Care Council (Eastbourne)
  • East Sussex County Council Children’s Social Care Placement Support team (Eastbourne and Hastings)
  • East Sussex County Council Children’s Social Care Through Care team
  • Fellowship of St Nicholas
  • Fireflies Childcare
  • Fit for Sport
  • Fitness Rave
  • Freedom Leisure
  • Fresh Visions Charity
  • Gizmo (the DIY Theatre Company)
  • Glottenham Farm
  • Glyne Gap School
  • Grove Park School
  • Grovelands School
  • Hastings Community Hive
  • Hastings Kick Boxing
  • Hastings Thrives
  • Heart of Sidley
  • In2Play
  • InSinc Wellness
  • Jewel Performing Arts
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Kiddicity
  • Kneecap/ A&I Media
  • Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust
  • Lilley Lovett Theatre Group
  • Little Gate Farm
  • Lymley Wood CIC
  • Make Good Trouble
  • NIPPERS – Newhaven integrated Play Project Educational and Recreational Services
  • Palma PT
  • Premier Education
  • Press Play Films
  • Priority 1-54
  • Priory School
  • Project Rewild
  • Red Butler Music School Limited
  • Role Models
  • Russell Martin Foundation
  • Saxon Mount Special School
  • Seahaven Sports
  • Sensory Soft Play
  • South Brockwells Farm
  • Sport Welcome
  • Sportitude
  • Sportscool
  • Sussex Community Development Association Ltd (SCDA)
  • Sweet Circus
  • The Art House
  • The Observatory Science Centre
  • The Southfield Trust
  • The Trees Community Association - Willingdon
  • Theatre Rotto
  • Towner Eastbourne
  • Train the way you play
  • Upgrade Training
  • Wave Leisure
  • Wellbody, Wellmind, Wellbeing
  • Wild and Green Sussex Active
  • YMCA DLG Eastbourne
  • YMCA Hastings and Rother

5 - Food

Girl smiling, holding a fork ready to eat a plate of food.
Photo by Make (Good) Trouble

Many providers achieved positive engagement with nutritional education and food preparation. Each provider organised their own food provision. Some used local community kitchens, others prepared lunch with the children from ingredients either shop bought or collected from allotments, community gardens or even local farm grounds. Those without kitchen facilities often opted for hot food delivery. This was from companies who supply food to schools or nurseries during term time.

Of the young people that answered our feedback survey, approximately 85.5% said that they liked the food on offer.

I loved that today they had food tasting and my son got to try foods he wouldn’t want to try at home.”

Parent, Eastbourne

5/5 wonderful staff and great cooking lessons, kids can't wait to make the cookies at home and have no idea how they got my son to eat peppers as he refuses to at home so might need to email for the recipe...”

Parent, Newhaven

This is such an amazing venue, it has helped with self confidence and a safe environment. Learning about animals, healthy eating, sharing. I’m truly grateful that this opportunity as been offered.”

Parent, Rye

I don't like eggs, but chef showed us how to make eggy bread and when we made it ourselves it tasted delicious. I also didn't think I liked curry but we made it from scratch and although I did not like the smells I loved eating the curry and even saved some to take home to share with my mum.”

Young person, Bexhill

I loved the breakfast and lunch as it was a curry and I've never had curry before it was tasty.”

Child, Peacehaven

6 - Enriching activity

Developing new skills

Throughout 2022 the HAF programme provided a diverse range of positive activities for young people. Offers included opportunities to develop skills in:

  • music
  • sport
  • art and craft
  • circus arts
  • martial arts
  • yoga
  • water sport
  • forest school/ bushcraft
  • drama and theatre
  • dance
  • animation
  • cooking
  • sewing

Trying new activities

In our summer feedback survey, 92% of parents and carers agreed that their child(ren) had tried or learnt something new.

It's great that my child and others have the opportunity to try new activities that they wouldn't be able to otherwise. Also it helps her mentally as it wouldn't be healthy for her to spend all her holidays with me and my mental unwellness... we're really thankful for the opportunity. 

Parent, Hailsham

Positive impact on emotional well-being and mental health

The HAF programme also had a positive impact on the emotional well-being and mental health of the young people who attended. For example, one Headteacher noticed a marked difference in 2 of their pupils following their attendance at a HAF theatre club at the school. The school then decided to use some pupil premium funding for them to attend the provider’s after school club for the following academic year.

For them to have 4 days to run wild and free was wonderful for their mental and physical health. The kids could eat as much as they wanted, but unhealthy bits like biscuits were limited, so they ate so well, so much fruit and veg and all sorts. Of course they were starving from being outside. It was all so good for them. It was such an excellent club.

Parent, Seaford

My son has additional needs and one of my biggest worries was leaving him! He was very nervous about going! After collecting him the first day he couldn't wait to go back!

Parent, Crowborough

HAF providers have also noted a lasting impact on many of the young people who have attended over multiple holidays. For example, several providers have supported children who began as HAF attendees to develop their skills and confidence to take on roles as youth leaders and mentors within HAF provision. Many of these young people are now running small groups and activities within funded provision. Some are even working towards coaching qualifications as a result.

This club has been so good for my child. She began by coming along as a holiday activity but has now extended this into volunteering to help as part of the Fitness Rave team. This has been so important for her. For the first time, she is part of a team. She loves the sense of belonging and routine it gives her. Plus it’s fun!

Parent, Hastings

A great programme with young people running it. Both my children loved attending and can't wait to go back

Parent, Heathfield

7 - Physical activity

All HAF provision included an element of physical activity. We were able to offer a wide choice of activities to suit a variety of preferences and abilities. We funded some specialist SEND providers and also offered additional funds to universal providers to support individual needs of young people. Partners from Active Sussex were also involved in the programme, both as part of the steering group and grant assessment panel. They provided extra training and support to HAF providers around effective activity provision. They also signposted to wider funding sources that might be appropriate.

I loved all the sports. My favourite was skiing because I had never done that before. I want to come here every holiday.

Child, Hailsham

My son is in a wheelchair and it’s the first club for sports he’s ever been able to go to and with his brother too! Very inclusive. Staff are great!

Parent, Eastbourne

An absolute lifeline for us. The kids absolutely love it and are introduced to activities we never could afford to offer them. They’re healthy and active and come home buzzing, a bit dirty with shining eyes….all the signs of a fantastic day! We are indebted to you for the support - thank you so much, I’m not sure what we would do without you.

Parent, Wivelsfield

8 - Nutritional education and promotion of healthy lifestyle

Providers delivered nutritional education in a variety of ways to suit the nature of the activity and age of the children. For younger children it was mainly discussions about food choices and the impact they have on our health. These might take place whilst preparing food. We have also experienced sports providers discussing why they have hydration breaks. Other providers catering to older cohorts, took a more structured approach. They provided information on:

  • nutritional content of food
  • balanced diets
  • budgeting for meals

88% of families who responded to the surveys thought their children had eaten more healthily over the holidays due to HAF provision.

One provider offered cooking sessions for 10- to 16-year-olds aimed at ‘encouraging healthy, nutritious eating on a budget’. The courses included certificates in Health and Safety Awareness and First Aid for participants. We received some very positive feedback from those who attended these courses, there are some examples below.

Loved learning how to cook using different cooking methods.

I loved the food and learning all about proteins, fats, CHO, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Colleagues from local food partnerships and other voluntary groups engaged with the programme. They offered support to providers and families and signposted to additional help available locally.

9 - Special education needs and disabilities (SEND)

Throughout 2022, developing provision for young people with additional needs was a key priority for our HAF programme. Whilst this will continue to be a focus for 2023, the feedback from families suggests that the provider training we commissioned and the increased number of activities for those with additional needs we have funded is having an impact. One parent commented that the provision her autistic child attended was “a very good example of how it should be done”.

Across the course of 2022, we saw a steady increase in our available SEND-specific provision. It represented 13%, 15% and 16% of the total provision respectively across the 3 delivery holidays. More than 1400 individual young people with SEND were supported through the programme.

My daughter loved it. The staff made a real effort to get to know her and gave her extra support for her additional needs. A couple of mornings respite has made all the difference to us. My daughter came home happy and it meant I could spend time with my other daughter and do the Christmas food shop which would have been impossible otherwise.

Parent, Eastbourne

My daughter’s autistic and the support she receives is beyond expectations 10/10

Parent, Peacehaven

My child has additional needs and this holiday club has helped her to make small steps in her life. Building confidence, making friends. It was brilliant, and generous and welcoming. A great resource in a town with very little for SEN children. Wonderful staff. My son loved it.

Parent, Newhaven

Beautifully run, lots of fun. Fabulous safe fun for children with disabilities where often social opportunities are sparse. The club is specifically useful for my son as he has autism so it keeps some kind of routine going through the holidays for him, especially as it is delivered at his school site.

Parent, Lewes

10 - Signposting and referrals

The East Sussex HAF team worked with our Supporting Families Team to produce a comprehensive list of services and support available for families. This was sent to all East Sussex HAF providers as a guide to possible referrals. The signposting sheet, which included help available from charities, local authorities (including social care) and the NHS, was organised under the subheadings:

  • Supporting Families to Thrive
  • Living happy and healthy lives
  • Staying safe in the community
  • Life-long learning
  • Happy and healthy relationships
  • Keeping children safe

We have also been introduced to some other out of school activity clubs that my son can continue to attend in term-time, which can only expand friendship and make our lives so happy. The HAF staff have always got time to talk to everyone and if I have a problem I know I could ask any of them for advice. It really is a lovely place.

Parent, Hastings

The staff were very supportive and were able to help with phone numbers for the food bank and citizens advice without judgement.

Parent, Newhaven

11 - HAF programme 2023 to 2024

In 2023 we will build on the previous two years’ experience. We will focus on continuing to:

  • develop our SEND offer
  • increase the number of schools acting as venues
  • engage more of the older cohorts into HAF provision
  • increase the breadth of provision available across all areas of the county

We have used the evidence gained from HAF delivery, of the impact of positive activities on mental health and emotional well-being, to successfully bid for additional funding from other sources. This will develop a wider positive activity offer outside the HAF holidays. This includes:

  • positive activities to support attendance during transition to secondary school
  • social prescribing well-being offer which includes a budget for positive activities delivered through four primary schools
  • a county-wide well-being offer which includes a budget for positive activities for Ukrainians and other refugees living in East Sussex
  • funding to support positive activities linked with Children and Young People’s Social Prescribing Programmes run by two Primary Care Networks