Summer holiday schemes suffer from council’s missing links

Croydon’s holiday activity and food clubs are open for booking – though with just days before the schools break up for the long summer holiday when the schemes are supposed to get underway, there’s a dearth of detail available on the council’s woeful website.

Jumping through hoops: parents are offered little information or assistance by the council’s website

From July 24 to August 25, the council tells us that there are 67 activity clubs and groups across the borough offering “a huge range of exciting activities and a healthy meal”.

In a press release issued from the propaganda bunker at Fisher’s Folly, they say, “These clubs are there to support families in need, while offering young people new opportunities and experiences.”

Funded by the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme – HAF – families in receipt of free school meals are eligible for free places and should receive a unique code from their child’s school that grants them access to the booking system. “This will allow them to secure their spots at their sessions of choice,” according to Croydon Council.

But the council press release failed to provide any links to the HAF page on its own website, nor to the HAF scheme’s bookings page.

Enterprising parents who dare to delve into the council’s website will find a page for HAF, although even by this morning, with the end of term closing in, it still did not offer anywhere to book places on any of the supposedly 67 activity centres.

Click here for the relevant page.

Once there, they will find this cheery, but ultimately unhelpful message: “An interactive brochure with a list of Croydon’s summer holiday clubs will be available shortly.

“Please check back soon!”

Most families should have, by now, received details of activity groups, and their meals voucher, from their children’s schools.

“If your child is eligible for benefit-related free school meals, their school should automatically send you an e-voucher and booking link via email or mobile text. Follow the link for each child to register onto the Holiday Activities platform and book a space at a holiday club near you,” the council says.

“If you do not receive a voucher code, please contact the child’s school, who will be able to re-issue an email or mobile text to you.”

In the same press release, the council suggests that from August 1 to 18, its youth engagement team is providing “sports, arts and crafts, gaming, and much more” for eight to 16-year-olds at the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Centre. But that’s it. No further information – no opening times, no instructions on how to book places (if that’s necessary or not), not even an address or location for the Centre, which is in South Norwood.

Among the council’s other operations over the summer, from August 22 to 25, it is offering a primary to secondary school transition week. “This is designed for young people aged 10-11 and will focus on building confidence and dealing with the anxiety that young people face when moving from Year 6 to Year 7.”

And that’s it, except for an email address this time:

And then there’s the borough’s Summer Reading Challenge, which begins tomorrow, July 8, with the theme of “Ready, set, read!”

“This year’s challenge is all about sports and games. For more information, visit your local library,” says the council where only one of its 13 public libraries is still opening on five days of the week.

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