Families across Essex may be eligible to access free holiday clubs and winter experiences.  Active Essex are thrilled to be working alongside Essex County Council and Thurrock Council, to deliver the Essex ActivAte Holiday activity and food programme on behalf of the Department for Education this December. The Essex ActivAte programme aims to support the physical and mental wellbeing of children and young people from low income homes, providing fun physical and enrichment activities, as well as a nutritious meal.

Across the entire county, there will be over 140 clubs up and running to provide a whole host of enjoyable and educational activities for kids to choose from. From archery, arts and crafts, baking, and exploring nature, to animal encounters, mini golf, parkour and bath bomb creation, there’s something for every child to enjoy! Every child will receive a school standard meal and nutritious snacks, with many clubs also providing an extra meal for during longer sessions.

Councillor Louise McKinlay (Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships, Equality & Performance) said: “The Essex ActivAte programme enables youngsters to have fun, try new things, make friends and engage in positive sports, as well as enjoying a nutritious meal while they’re there for the day. I’m really proud of the scale of the winter offer, with over 140 clubs featuring so many exciting activities and experiences for children who may not otherwise have access to holiday clubs and such opportunities.”

We are committed to ensuring that clubs and activities in this year’s ActivAte Essex winter programme are inclusive and accessible. Active Essex will be providing training for all partners, covering topics such as: inclusive awareness, mental wellbeing, safeguarding, nutrition education and epilepsy and seizure training. All ActivAte clubs will be inclusive, with a trained SEND and Mental Wellbeing ambassador to support our club-goers. We will also be working with experienced organisations to deliver dedicated SEND Hubs and Mental Wellbeing Hubs across Essex, offering tailored activities run by specialist coaches.

And to get us all in the festive spirit at the most wonderful time of the year, many clubs will be hosting a unique celebration event, which may include special winter experiences such as a winter crafts, Santa’s grotto, pantomime shows or animal encounters. All activities will differ from club to club, but each one will ensure a wonderful time is had by all who attend.

Anton Ferdinand (former professional football player and Active Essex Board Member), said: “Its heartbreaking to see families and kids not having a safe place to go and keep active. So I think it’s fantastic and wonderful that Active Essex are solving that problem.”

This winter holiday programme follows a successful summer stint, where we delivered an extended holiday activities and food education programme, which saw more than 180 different types of activity on offer in Essex, giving children and young people the opportunity to try new things and discover new passions. We worked with 108 organisations to deliver 218 clubs across Essex and Thurrock during the summer, and went on to run more than 100 clubs within the successful October Half Term programme.

One parent, during Half Term, said: “This is probably the most amazing scheme that I have experienced. My children were so happy and it reduced my stress levels, which usually increase greatly over the school holidays. We are on a tight budget and cannot normally afford to put the children into the expensive holiday clubs, and they end up spending holidays in the house, not being very active.”

The winter ActivAte Essex clubs, which will run predominantly between the 20th – 24th of December, are free for all children who are eligible for benefits based free school meals, as well as children from low income working families and other eligible families in need of support. If you would like more information on clubs in your local area, support available and information on how to book, check out our website for details:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Contact: Laura Dickinson – laura.dickinson@activeessex.org

Each club will deliver a variety of physical and enrichment activities.
Clubs will incorporate fun winter enrichment sessions.
The programme will help children learn about food and nutrition through fun activities.
All clubs are inclusive, with dedicated SEND and Mental Wellbeing Hubs also available.