A large number of Active Partnerships are proactively working with local partners, schools and community providers to coordinate holiday hunger initiatives to help reach the most vulnerable young people this summer.
We know from Sport England research that the number of children and young people meeting CMO guidelines during lockdown has dropped from 47% to just 19%. Furthermore, the pandemic has further driven stubborn trends in inequalities linked to digital deprivation, a lack of outdoor space and a nearly a third of job losses or furloughing happening to lower-paid jobs. The latest research by Kooth indicates that there has been a 34% rise in the demand for mental health support along with a 31% increase in levels of loneliness and 170% increase in feelings of sadness and depression amongst children and young people during this pandemic. All of these statistics paint a bleak picture for the physical and mental wellbeing of our next generation.
As a network, Active Partnerships play a key role in tackling inequalities and inactivity across England focusing on priority areas of greatest need. This role has become more important than ever to help reach children and young people most in need and affected by the pandemic. A large number of Active Partnerships are proactively working with local partners, schools and community providers to coordinate holiday hunger initiatives to help reach the most vulnerable young people. Holiday hunger initiatives provide opportunities for young people in some of the most deprived pockets of the country to come together to socialise, take part in high quality and enjoyable sport and physical activity and benefit from nutritious meals that they may not otherwise get during the long summer break. This summer is more important than ever following the on-going school closures for some year groups and the reliance girls and young people from black and ethnic minority groups have on schools to be active.
There is some fantastic work being done across the country such as Herts Sports Partnership recently releasing details of their new funding programme to support local partners put on holiday programmes across the county funded through the Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF). Rise, the sports partnership covering Northumberland and Tyne & Wear are also working with StreetGames on the ‘Best Summer Ever’ campaign which will enable hundreds of at-risk young people to benefit from a holiday hunger initiative. Active Cumbria are working with Cumbria Youth Alliance and other partners who through funding from the TIF are providing physical activity sessions for targeted young people in a variety of youth setting with a free packed lunch, this will also be based on StreetGames fit and fed model.
Charlie Crane, Partnership Manager said:
“The research into the activity levels of children and young people during lockdown is extremely worrying. Prior to Covid-19, we were starting to see the activity levels of children and young people increasing however the pandemic has further exacerbated the stubborn trends in inequalities and we need to prioritise supporting the most vulnerable children and young people this summer. Our Opening Schools Facilities work funded by Sport England and the Department for Education has highlighted the valuable role schools can play in providing a safe and known ‘hub’ for holiday provision and we hope through our local work that a real difference can be made to helping young people be more active and feel connected socially again this summer”