In this section:
Holiday clubs and activity days are ideal ways for children and young people to explore the Bible more in depth and think through how this might impact their daily lives.
Through serving the local community during the holidays churches can practically live out how much God loves the people in their community.
There are many benefits for a church exploring Holiday Provision;
- An opportunity to share the Good News
- Enable churches to work together
- An opportunity to empower young people as young leaders
- An opportunity to serve the needs of the community (support for parents)
As part of the time together the children and young people will be thinking through who God has made them to be.There are also plenty of opportunities for young leaders and new leaders to try new things and experience what it means to be a leader in a safe and supportive environment.
Some degree of planning and preparation is required but undoubtedly the holiday club experience is something that is enjoyed by all and often considered to be well worth the effort.Running holiday clubs also create an extended time where a Biblical theme can be explored to a level which weekly clubs cant always allow for.
The amount of time a church runs a holiday club ranges from 3 afternoons a week to 5 mornings a week to a 10am-3pm day.There is no set length of time and very often depends on the availability and energy levels of the volunteers.
Choosing the right programme
Some churches have people who are very gifted in writing and creating their own holiday club programme.However, for those of us who arent so gifted in this area creating a programme for a holiday club doesnt need to be difficult as there is a huge variety of pre-written material that a church could access and deliver with minimal preparation. Below are some links which includes specially written resources which are available to churches:
This is an alternative to the week long holiday club.Some churches use this approach if volunteers availability is limited or if there are only a few children in the local community.An Activity Day can be 3 consecutive days which explore a different theme each day. Alternatively, a series of whole day/half day weekly events which are run over a series of weeks over the school holidays.These activity days are often stand-alone events with a Christian message threaded through the activities.Activity days include a craft day; a sports day; a games day; a baking day etc. the more focussed activity days allows for the different interests of the children and the different skills of the volunteers.
Filling the Hunger Gap
For those children receiving Free School Meals what happens during the holidays?Are they still able to get a hot meal a day?Many churches are beginning to see this as a need in their communities and responding to this need by either providing a Christmas Hamper or ensuring that there is a hot meal a week during the school holidays.Churches are working in partnership with their local school to identify the families most in need and then responding sensitively to them and providing them with the opportunity to receive a hot meal or a meal parcel.
One organisation, MakeLunch highlights the need on their website;
School holidays are not just a break from the classroom. For many, they are also a break from hot meals.
For the thirteen weeks of school holidays this year, many pupils in the UK will not eat a hot meal each day. At school more than 1.2 million pupils who may otherwise go without are eligible to receive free school meals. Outside of term time though, free school meals are not available and many pupils are left without regular hot food.
This is where MakeLunch comes in. During school holidays, our network of churches and community groups open Lunch Kitchens across the UK to provide free, healthy, cooked food for pupils who usually receive free school meals. We believe that every child deserves to eat a cooked meal every day.
For further information on how your church can support your local community through MakeLunch, click on the link https://www.makelunch.org.uk/
Safeguarding and Procedures
As a diocese safeguarding our children, young people and our volunteers is something that is a high priority. National Guidance can be found in Protecting All Gods Children .
Diocesan Policy recommends that designated leaders need to be DBS checked as well as anyone who is working with the children on 4 occasions over any 30 day period meeting this criteria will also make the check Regulated Activity. However, if there are people who are dropping in to help as and when and only doing the occasional day then they are not eligible to check however it is essential that they constantly supervised by someone who has been DBS checked at all times. As the volunteers are working with children they would need to complete the Confidential Declaration form regardless whether or not they are DBS checked. Anyone being DBS checked should sign this document.
Click here for forms and further guidance from the Diocesan Safeguarding team
All volunteers need to attend regular free Safeguarding training offered by Lichfield Diocese.For information for upcoming training across Lichfield Diocese click here
Policies and procedures
The following information needs to be gathered when you have children and young people booked onto your event;
Name/date of birth
Contact information (useful for follow-up)
Permission for photographs to be taken and used click here for a sample form.
Dietary requirements (especially if food is going to be served)
Next of kin/emergency contact name andtelephone number
Permission to administer first aid and take to hospital in case of an emergency
What does Ofsted say?
Here is a really helpful link from Out of School Alliance which provides guidelines and suggestions for setting up a holiday club.
Scripture Union has also provided documents which outline the requirements that should be considered in setting up a holiday club.
Holiday clubs and activity days can be a great opportunity to deep relationships and build new ones.As a church planning the activities we can often get caught up in the delivery and forget to make the most of the opportunities for follow-up.Some examples below may be helpful when thinking this through;
- A BBQ towards the end of the sessions to invite all parents and carers creates a space where the club can be showcased, parents can hear the Good News of the Gospel and further services can be highlighted
- A Holiday Club Sunday Special either to launch the club at the start of the week or at the end to reveal points and prizes
- Using the database of contacts to personally invite families to other church events throughout the year
- Having a flier with all the church events and clubs for the children to take home
Planning and leading a holiday club or activity days can take up a lot of time however wherever possible, create a group of willing helpers to share out the tasks.These people dont have to be involved on the actual day and some could be done from the comfort of their own home for the less mobile.Some of the tasks that could be easily shared out include;
- Co-ordinating (someone to ensure that everything is on track and leading the planning meetings)
- Communications (advertising, invites etc)
- Resources (gathering, cutting, creating)
- Up front on the day leading the altogether session
- Volunteers (recruiting, allocating)
Holiday clubs and activity days are also a great opportunity to train up any young people and allow them with the chance to exercise their leadership skills.Initially, this may take some extra coaching and mentoring but the rewards are great for all involved.
Running a Holiday provision is not something that comes without a financial cost.Across Lichfield Diocese and beyond there are a number of grants and funds that church can access to help support the ministry.Below are just a few;
Resourcing Parish Mission
Church Urban Fund
Across Lichfield diocese are a number of scrap stores which have a huge variety of art and craft resources often priced at a very low cost.It is well worth exploring these treasure troves.
Community Scrap Shack
Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2PR
Eastfield Community Site
Wolverhampton WV1 2QY
1 Sherratt Court
Shropshire SY6 6BN