For many school-aged children receiving free school meals, the summer holidays can be challenging due to the costs of holiday activities. The Holiday Activity Fund has been established to help respond to these issues by providing free, accessible, and regular holiday activities for school-aged children.
Food4Families has had a successful series of free summer sessions thanks to funding from the Holiday Activity Fund in partnership with Brighter Futures. These sessions were intended to encourage children to explore nature, stay active, and learn where their food comes from. Sessions took place at seven of the Food4Families gardens throughout Reading. Kids enjoyed activities as varied as cookery classes in Coley Park, designing terrariums in the Weller Centre in Caversham, drum circles at Southcote GrowAllot, stone carving at Lavender Place, and rock painting at Whitley GrowAllot.
With many families returning for multiple sessions, it’s clear these activities were a hit with kids and parents alike. Some families have used these activities as a way to cope during the pandemic. Sarah, one of our volunteers, said: “As a home educating family, being able to volunteer at Southcote Community Garden has been a fantastic opportunity for both my son and I. We have completed a whole gardening year which has taken us through particularly isolating periods of time when our normal activities have been restricted due to Covid. Being at the gardens has taught us the basics of food growing as well as helped us feel that we were doing something useful for our community. My son and niece have also loved the summer activities at Lavender Place this summer.”
Meanwhile, other families visited the gardens for the first time during this summer and found them to be welcoming and fun. CDM, another volunteer, mentioned, “Today was the first time our family had visited the community garden and we had a great time. Thank you. My husband got some really good gardening advice, which he was very pleased about. Our girls were completely relaxed as soon as they got to the garden; there was no shyness or clinging to my legs which was great! We all enjoyed it and are looking forward to coming back.”
Food4families was founded in 2009 as a project of Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC). In addition to the recent holiday activities, Food4families has recently coordinated Veg4Reading, a food growing project in response to the COVID crisis. Our gardens always need more volunteers, so come by for a visit by checking out our garden opening hours here.
- It’s Reading Town Meal on Saturday 25 September: read more here.