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Free holiday activities for children eligible for free school meals

Thousands of free places for activities over the Christmas school holidays are available for parents and carers of children eligible for income-related free school meals.

Cheshire East Council has worked together with local schools, childcare providers and community and voluntary organisations to offer thousands of free activities which are now available and easier to book via a new online system.

The new online booking method offers eligible parents the opportunity to browse and book with ease, with a clear breakdown of the activities available, and by which providers.

The free places are funded by the Department for Education, as part of the government’s holiday activities and food programme.  The programme has been successfully run by the council since 2021, and sessions include arts and crafts, sports and games, cooking and baking, performing arts, health and well-being sessions, gardening, animal care, and days out.

Councillor Carol Bulman, lead member for children and families at Cheshire East Council, said:

“Christmas can be a very expensive time for families and this vital programme supports those most in need.

“This is a great scheme that provides children and young people with a healthy meal, the chance to socialise, learn, be more active and have fun over the winter break.

“The new online booking system is easy to use, and I thank everyone involved in its development.”

There are also limited spaces available to support children and young people who don’t receive income related free school meals but would benefit from the schemeFor example, to support a child with a disability, or those supported by a social worker or other professional. Parents and carers are advised to speak to their child’s lead practitioner or social worker who can support their application.

Parents and carers not eligible for the free places or the additional discretionary spaces are asked to contact the activity organisers directly, as some do offer fee-paying sessions.

The programme sits alongside the government’s household support fund, which aims to help families across England with the cost of food, energy, water bills and other essentials.

To find out more visit: 


For more help and advice on the cost of living including the household support fund and how to find out if your child is eligible for income related free school meals, visit: 


or call:

0300 123 5012

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