A record number of children have benefitted from holiday activities and nutritious meals while schools are shut.
National charity Cash For Kids expect to provide activities to more than 61,000 children, up from the 37,000 children supported last year.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell visited Milton Holiday Hub in Invergordon, which provides one-stop access to childcare, activities, healthy food and family support. It is part of a pilot scheme to widen access to children in rural locations.
Highland Council and third sector partners received £43,000 Scottish Government funding to run the hub five days a week over the summer holidays, providing childcare as well as activities, meals and wider family support.
Ms Campbell said:
“School holidays should be a time for fun and excitement for children, but for some families it brings financial pressures, particularly due to UK Government welfare cuts and austerity. We want to ensure that families who need additional support have access to a place where their children can go and receive a healthy meal and take part in fun activities.
“The partnership with local authorities and the third sector is key to tackling food insecurity and child poverty. This is a priority for this government and we are ensuring that those most in need receive the right support.
“We also recognise that there are specific barriers to accessing support in rural communities which we’re overcoming with the Milton Holiday Hub this summer. This helps ensure those communities are able to still receive support while the local school is closed.”
The Scottish Government has focused £2 million from the £3.5 million Fair Food Fund specifically on school holidays, with £692,000 awarded for 2019-20 to support families send their children to a holiday club scheme.
National charity Cash for Kids received £250,000 to fund a range of community groups offering holiday programmes, linking up with local authority activity across Scotland.
CentreStage in Ayrshire expanded their Dignified Food Project since the Easter holidays and with £54,000 of funding will roll-out the project to 12 areas across Ayrshire.
Community Food Initiatives North East and Moray Food Plus shared a further £3,000, working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and others to build on existing support.
The Scottish Government took forward the recommendations of the Poverty and Inequality Commission earlier this year, and worked to improve the coordination of support for families during the school holidays. The creation of a Holiday Hub in Milton used £43,000 to pilot a comprehensive public and third sector partnership. Led by Highland Council, the Holiday Hub will include childcare, activities, nutritious food and wider family support in a rural area.
The pilot is providing valuable learning on the coordination of holiday activities and support, recommended by the Poverty and Inequality Commission in November 2018.