National developer Wates Residential is helping to combat the challenges of the summer holidays by running sessions to support a crucial scheme for children.
Food and Fun is an innovative project which aims to help families who struggle to access healthy food over the summer holidays or who may be at risk of social isolation.
This year, over 500 children aged between five and 11 took part in the programme, which is run by a partnership in the city, which includes Cardiff Council, Food Cardiff, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Sport Cardiff. The programme is part funded by the Welsh Government and administered by the Welsh Local Government Association.
Wates Residential, which is currently working with Cardiff Council on a long-term project to deliver 1,500 homes in the city, supported the project by donating over 20 volunteer hours.
Access to affordable food during the summer holidays, when children would otherwise be receiving free school meals, is a growing issue across the country.
According to recent reports, parents who usually rely on free school meals have to spend an extra £40 a week to feed a single child outside of term time, while the Trussell Trust recently warned that food bank use spikes each summer.
The developer is now looking to help similar programmes near to its other developments across London and the south of England, including its new joint venture partnership with the London Borough of Havering to regenerate 12 estates over the next 12 to 15 years.
Children attend the Food and Fun clubs between 9.30am and 3pm, and are provided with breakfast and a hot lunch, while activities including sport, crafts, nutrition and music are also organised.
In Cardiff, volunteers from Wates Residential used their knowledge to lead a number of activities with children from 10 local schools to help boost their English, Maths and decision-making skills, as well as teaching them about the roles and opportunities available in construction.
These included ‘Hunt the Hazard’ – which focused on health and safety – and the ‘Strawbees challenge’, which saw children work together as ‘buyers’, ‘designers’ and ‘bidders’ to see who could build the tallest, strongest structures using Strawbees construction kits.
Over £3,000 in social value was generated through Wates Residential’s work with the project and the developer also donated a Strawbees construction kit to Riverbank School in Ely.
Wates Residential has been working with Cardiff Council on its flagship housebuilding programme, Cardiff Living, since 2016. The 10-year partnership is designed to tackle growing demand for housing in the city and, in particular, increase the area’s affordable homes offer.
As part of the project, Wates Residential has made a joint pledge with the council to create employment and training opportunities for local residents, including on-site apprenticeships, work experience placements and structured training programmes.
Paul Nicholls, Managing Director of Wates Residential South, said:
“While for many the school holidays are a period of excitement, for some families it can be a really difficult time with mounting financial pressures.
Children should be able to have access to hot meals and healthy food no matter what time of the year it is and so it is vital that programmes like Food and Fun are available to those who need them most.
We are proud to support such a special project in Cardiff and the benefits it provides to local communities as we continue to deliver much-needed new affordable homes for the area.”
Cllr Sarah Merry, Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, commented:
“Since it was first piloted in Cardiff three years ago, Food and Fun has had a really positive effect on so many children and it has been great to see the school holiday enrichment programme grow over the years.
Food and Fun ensures that children can access healthy eating, enjoy physical activities and fun learning opportunities throughout the summer holidays. The volunteers involved in the enrichment programme are vital in helping us to run as many sessions as we do, and I want to thank all our partners, including Wates, for the time and enthusiasm they put in to Food and Fun.”