Councillor Chewe Munkonge, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks on the importance of summer holiday activities.
It’s that time of year when our kids are really excited about the summer holidays. It’s great for kids, but it can be stressful for parents – especially if you’re on a budget.
As a councillor, I hear from many local families worried about how to manage the extra cost of summer holidays. We all want our kids to have a good summer, but it’s hard knowing where to start on a tight budget. For some families, the extra cost of lunches in school holidays is a real problem.
That’s why we’re running a #MakeYourSummer campaign on social media. We’re highlighting activities across the city so young people don’t have to miss out because of money.
We work with partners to make sure there are free and low cost activity weeks in as many different areas as possible. Our Youth Ambition team is organising four weeks of activities in Littlemore and Northway, we have partners in Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill, Barton, north Oxford and East Oxford offering a huge variety of activities.
On top of these, there is also the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) offered through the County Council, for families on benefits-related free school meals. There’s a huge range of opportunities on offer, from music and video production to bushcraft, sport and crafts. All these activities include a free healthy meal, to help families through the summer.
These activities aren’t just about having fun, they make a huge difference to young people too - giving them a safe place to spend time with friends, try new things, enjoy favourite activities and learn new skills. Our Youth Ambition scheme offers some the chance to be Young Leaders and be recognised for leadership and supporting others. Young people tell us it makes a big difference to their confidence, their friendships and thinking about their futures.
If you’re interested, check our website www.oxford.gov.uk/YouthAmbition for summer activities and the HAF programme.
For those that don’t get onto a free activity week, there are still plenty of free and low-cost activities they can organise themselves. We have dozens of green spaces for picnics, sports, playgrounds and nature trails. Oxford has some outstanding free museums, including the Museum of Oxford showing local Oxford lives. Our GO Active Families programme (www.oxford.gov.uk/GoActiveFamilies) has all sorts of ideas to have a good time without spending money. We have free swimming for all under-17s who live in Oxford, and leisure discounts through our Bonus Card and YouMove schemes.
Whatever your budget, there are plenty of ways to #MakeYourSummer special in Oxford.