Loneliness and social isolation are issues that can affect us all, at any time of our lives. During the school summer holidays when children and young people are less likely to spend time with their friends, or engage in physical activities, these issues are more likely to affect them. Transitioning from a busy school environment where you see your friends daily to weeks without a structured routine can be a difficult adjustment.
I am very pleased that the Government funded Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme will be running here in Swindon again over the school summer holidays. The Department for Education has provided funding to Swindon Borough Council to coordinate the programme that provides healthy food and enriching activities to eligible children throughout the school holidays for this year. Around 7,000 children across Swindon will be eligible for free holiday provision over these periods.
Children who take up a place at a free holiday club will have the opportunity to eat more healthily over the school holidays, be more active by being involved in physical activities aimed at developing resilience, character, and wellbeing, be safe and not socially isolated over holiday periods and, most importantly, have fun with friends.
School aged children who are eligible for the free Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) Programme here in Swindon include children in receipt of benefits related free school meals, children in need (must have a social worker working with the child) and young carers. To find out more please visit Holiday activities and food programme | Swindon Borough Council
I am also pleased that parish councils here in south Swindon are running free activities for children over the summer, including Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parish Council, who have funded free summer multi-sports sessions for children aged between 5 and 16 at The Dorcan Academy. Why not contact your Parish Council to find out what’s on offer over the summer Parish councils contact details (swindon.gov.uk)
The Summer Reading Challenge will also be taking place throughout the school summer holidays. This brilliant free challenge keeps children’s minds and bodies active over the summer break, empowering young people to forge new connections with others and unleash the power of play, sport, and physical activity through reading. For further details, please visit https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/
Young Minds have issued the following helpful tips to ensure that children and young people make the most of their time away from school or college during the summer holidays:
- During the summer holidays, people often feel isolated because they’re no longer surrounded by their classmates every day.
- It’s really easy to distance ourselves by spending all our time alone and neglecting keeping in touch with friends.
- However, keeping in contact with school mates is crucial to maintaining a support network and avoiding feelings of loneliness.
- Texting a friend to organise a get-together is really important. It may feel daunting but taking that step to make plans will mean you keep connected to your friends during your time off school.
Structure your days
- Implementing our own structure to our days during the summer holidays is really beneficial.
- The summer holidays are a big change to what we are used to during term time. The days may have no structure or routine, and this can lead to us feeling unmotivated and unproductive.
- It’s easy to get into a rut, but by having a schedule during the holidays we can maintain some organisation in our days.
- Having a routine can be as simple as ensuring you get up and eat breakfast each morning or allocating time each day for pursuing your hobbies and interests.
- Just keeping some structure in our lives during the summer means our days will be much more organised and productive. Plus, when September arrives and it’s time to return to school, the transition back to school will be easier.
- Exercise is so important for not only our physical health, but also our mental health as it releases endorphins which make us feel good!
- At school, we often do sports multiple times a week, and it’s a great idea to continue doing this during the summer holidays.
- It could be walking the dog, running around the block, whatever you like!
- Getting your body moving in whatever way works best for you is a great way to spend your time, helping you de-stress and keep healthy.
Have a rest
- School is tiring and you have worked hard during the term, so the summer holidays are a time to take a break and relax.
- It’s a great chance to recharge your batteries ready for the next school year, so make sure you take some time to rest and recuperate!
- Do the things that you enjoy or find new hobbies - just take some time for yourself.
If you are really struggling over the summer, there are many charities and helplines that you can contact for support. Do not suffer in silence, there is always someone who can help. Please visit https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/blog/how-to-cope-with-loneliness-during-the-summer-holidays/
Summer Holiday Boredom Busters
Watch a classic old movie.
Go to a charity shop and find something oddly fabulous for your wardrobe or room.
Invent a new type of sandwich (peanut butter and salami?).
Learn to cook something different.
Make a new playlist of the best tunes for your summertime soundtrack.
Teach yourself some new dance moves.
Do something kind for someone.
Get arty and draw, paint, or collage a portrait.
Write and produce a film or play with your friends.
Re-create a childhood photo (you’re a lot bigger now).
Go on a photo safari.
Clean your room (just kidding!).
Make your own list of things to do when you’re bored (with better ideas!).