Check out this video to give you an overview of our half term and holiday programmes:


Essex ActivAte funding and programmes explained

Between 2019 and 2020, the Active Essex Foundation took action to help young people in Essex stay active and enjoy nutritious food during the school holidays, reaching over 2000 families in Essex most affected by food insecurity.

2021 then saw the Department for Education launch their Holiday Activities and Food programme, and Active Essex were chosen to deliver the programme across Essex and Thurrock.

The name Essex ActivAte sums up the key elements of the programme – provision of activities and nutritious food for children and young people in Essex.

Holiday Activity and Food Programme  – Easter, Winter and Summer holidays

The Holiday Activity and Food Programme runs during the Easter, Summer and Winter holidays, and is solely aimed at school-aged children who receive income related free school meals during term time. Limited spaces are available for children who’re from ‘low-income’ working families and you will need to be self-referred or in some instances, self-refer to book a space at a club.

Essex ActivAte programme – February, May/June and October half terms

A gap was quickly in the offer, for those who are on the cusp of being eligible for free school meals. The offer was extended to ‘low-income’ working families and a small number of other eligible groups during smaller half terms. Due to smaller half terms only running for a week, clubs offer sessions for about 2-3 days on average, therefore spaces are limited and provided for those most in need. Due to the way the programme is funded, unfortunately no clubs run in the Thurrock area.

How do I book onto a club?

A couple of weeks before each half term and holiday programme, we will post on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages when clubs are available to view and book,  so make sure you’re following our social media!

Easter, Summer and Winter – Main Holidays

If your child/ren is on benefit based free school meals (BBFSM), you will receive a Holiday Activities voucher from your school with your unique booking code. You will receive one code, per child, per main holiday. You must book your child/ren onto a club, using the booking link on your voucher, and not on this website. 

For further support on booking your child/ren onto a club using your code, click here.

If your child/ren are not on benefit based free school meals and you feel that they would benefit from attending one of our clubs, you must contact the club directly to book on.

If your child cannot attend a club after they have booked on, please inform the club as soon as possible. Without doing so, you will lose your credits and stop someone else accessing a valuable space.

June, October, February – Smaller Half Terms

To book your child/ren onto one of our half term clubs, you will not receive a Holiday Activities voucher from your school, and you will need to head over to our webpage to see what clubs are available, which will go live a few of weeks ahead of the half term programme.

Simply select your area, find what clubs are available and book your child on through the link provided. Depending on the club, you may need to book through our website, or contact them directly.

If you are unsure or have any questions, reach out to our team for further information:

Get further support on how to book onto a club using your Holiday Activities voucher code here

Across both smaller half terms and the longer holidays, we work with local organisations to provide children and young people at our clubs the following:

Physical and Enrichment Activities

Our programmes work with a range of locally trusted organisations and external activity providers, to ensure there is something for everyone.

Many of our partners have years of experience in delivering an array of activities at their sessions, from multisports, obstacle courses, team games, dance and martial arts, to arts and crafts, cooking, drama, puzzles, writing and more! Our partners go above and beyond to provide something new and exciting for children, whether it be an usual craft, an awesome inflatable course, a special challenge or the chance to meet animals!

Alongside sessions, we also work with partners who have expertise in a particular activity, such as dance, football, equine therapy or baking, which may be most prominent at their club. Whilst these clubs cater to specific interests, they each still deliver their own selection of additional activities, to ensure that children have the chance to take part in both physical and enrichment activities, as well as learning food education.

Food Education

At every club, partners work hard to help children explore food and nutrition, aiming to instil nutritious eating habits and an awareness of the impact of food on the body, so that they may carry this forward throughout their lives.

  • Every club provides attendees with a tasty, nutritious meal
    During the Easter, Summer and Winter holidays these are fully funded for every child, during the half terms, these are free for those eligible for benefits based free school meals, with the option for other eligible families to pay a small fee for lunch or provide a packed lunch
  • Every club includes some form of food education
    Whether it be cooking and baking sessions, smoothie creation, quizzes and games based on nutritious eating, or art & crafts exploring the human body – our partners aim to encourage children to try new foods, consider nutritious food choices and notice how food makes them feel both physically and mentally
  • Our Activity Packs feature fun food based activities for children to enjoy at home
    From brain teasers and puzzles, to designing a new vegetable or creating a new recipe, every activity pack features engaging activities to keep nutrition in mind at home

Our programmes also offer the following:

SEND and Mental Wellbeing Clubs
SEND Clubs

During every holiday programme, we offer a number of SEND clubs, providing tailored activities, in smaller groups, run by specialist coaches. Just as we aim to provide something for everyone within our mainstream clubs, each club provides it’s own unique range of activities – from arts & crafts, sensory play, quizzes, puzzles, and role play, to animal encounters, soft play, multisports, team games, and outdoor exploration!

Mental Wellbeing Clubs

Alongside our mainstream and SEND offer, we also provide mental wellbeing clubs for children and young people who may prefer a more quiet setting, whether that be due to mental wellbeing challenges, or lack of confidence / independence. These sessions are usually shorter (approx 2hrs) and in smaller groups, providing a calm space for children to enjoy and try new and meet new people – all at their own pace.

Family Support

We encourage every club to provide support for the families of attendees. Every partner is able to signpost families to relevant organisations, events or information, based on their discussions with parents and guardians. We also provide a free, printed family booklet during Easter, Summer and Winter holidays, giving lots of tips, guidance and inspiration. Beyond this, many partners also offer family activities, celebration events, training sessions, trips and performances.

Active Essex
Two people playing catch

Activity Finder

Discover what physical activity and sport opportunities are available near you.

Find Your Active here