Get Stuck In! – Summer Holiday and Activity Fund (HAF) Project

Bringing joy, fun and laughter to the children of Blackburn and Darwen, the ‘Get Stuck In’ club was delivered by the Newground Together Holiday and Activity Fund (HAF) project in partnership with Spring North over the summer holidays – delivering four weeks of exciting activities.

The club ran from 2nd August – 29th August 2021 and was open to children eligible for free school meals, providing vital support to struggling families across the school holidays. The activities provided by Newground Together, were held either at the Hub@Shadsworth or the Greensleeves Community Garden on the Shadsworth estate in Blackburn.

Over 70 children took part in activities ranging from STEM projects and arts and crafts, to den building, scavenger hunts and bush craft. A mix of self-led and staff led exercises ensured children were kept stimulated and engaged.

One of the parents said, “my son has really looked forward to coming, he has always talked about what he has done and how much fun he has had. I only wish I had got him in sooner. It was easier bringing him here than taking him to school”

Sessions were four hours long, themes for the outdoor activities featured around ‘hunter gatherers and tribal teams.’ The main objective of the activities at the Greensleeves site was to engage the participants in the great outdoors – allowing children to engage with and explore their natural environment. Children were taught new knowledge and skills and given site responsibility learning new skills and making friends along the way.

Rachel Davies, Newground Together Sustainable Communities Coordinator said, “Covid has impacted a lot of families in our local communities, families are struggling and often can’t afford childcare over the summer holidays so that they can work. Our free Get Stuck In club provided support, food and free childcare in a setting where a range of interests were catered for. Planning a variety of different and engaging sessions allowed children to learn new skills, make new friends and have fun.”

An example of how the programme engaged children can be seen in the below case study:

Two brothers who were shy and had low confidence when initially attending, went on walks in the woods where they learnt about different trees and the environment, during the walks the brothers visibly relaxed. One of the brothers was an expert at catching frogs and teaching others in the group boosted his self-esteem. Over time they began to engage with the rest of the group. Their interest in the outdoors and the friendly and warm environment meant they were more confident in approaching new challenges.

Over the summer they enjoyed more and more activities, made new friends and happily spoke to adults and children in the group setting. Towards the final week of the club the brothers even split up and took part in separate sessions.

Ruth, Project Officer at Newground commented on how the activities help children open up saying, “Children are often shy on arrival but by the end of summer they are like different people, loud, happy and increasingly confident – they really come out of their shell and have fun and that’s what this is all about.”

The nature of the outdoor sessions gave children the opportunity to learn new skills, have group discussions and one-to-one attention from time to time, all of which supported and helped the children thrive. The club and activities provided gave the children skills to help build their resilience and learn relaxation techniques as well as allowing them time for reflection.