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Holiday Activity and Food Programme Pompey

Funded by the Department of Education to support benefits free school meal families, the HAF programme has been rolled out across the country to support lower income families during the school holidays.

Please note, families must have been granted benefits related free school meal status to access a free, funded space.

There are a small percentage of spaces for non-free school meal families which are granted on a case-by-case basis through a professional service referral and is targeted to support the most vulnerable families. SEND needs will be considered as part of the referral evaluation but do not guarantee a funded space.

HAF Fun Pompey gives children time together over the school holidays to explore what the city has to offer, learn new skills, and enjoy a nutritional meal.

The programme provides some fantastic opportunities to book onto a diverse range of activities and our providers are working hard to make their offer as inclusive as possible.

Activities include sports, theatre, storytelling, cooking, laser tag, arts & crafts, day trips and much more as well as good, tasty food.

In Portsmouth we have been working closely with our activity providers to make sure they are as inclusive and accessible as possible. We also have SEND specific activities on offer. We have also worked with local independent charity, Enable Ability, to offer activities specifically for children and young people with SEND. We have also worked with Council for Disabled Children to collate a Holiday Activities and Food Programme Toolkit to inspire providers across all local authorities to accommodate SEND families as best as possible.

We are working hard to ensure more mainstream provision can appropriately support SEND during the HAF Fun Pompey programme. Enable Ability have hosted a training workshop for ‘Confidence in SEND’ and many participants with additional needs have had fantastic experiences in our mainstream provision.

SEND Support – PYC Portsmouth

“…this week my little one with lots of additional needs has….loved it. I was a bit nervous leaving her with others that don’t know her but they’ve dealt with her amazingly. Thank you.”
HAF Parent/Carer 

“He is autistic and doesn’t engage at all well at school. He was so nervous about attending however the staff knew his situation and were amazing…so he knew what to expect. On the day they were on hand straight away and really de-sensitized him, he couldn’t stop talking each day and showing us what he had been doing. Best of all he made his first friend. This scheme is amazing!”
HAF Parent/Carer

When you add a child onto the booking system you complete a profile, there is a ‘LEARNING INFORMATION’ section, here you can list:

  • Allergies and health notes
  • Learning notes and personality
  • Portfolio personal statement (optional)

We recommend giving as much information as possible so providers can cater for your child’s needs as best as possible and/or assess if they are well enough equipped to meet their needs. This will give your child the best learning experience possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the HAF programme support children with special educational needs?

HAF is open to all eligible children aged 5-16 and we have made sure activities are as inclusive and accessible as possible.

We have made available online SEND training to our providers so that they can have a basic understanding to help them support the children and young people they are working with.

We have a SEND Support webpage and we are always keen to hear from families if they have any feedback and/or need more information to be provided.

We have some SEND specific activities available (some are listed privately as they work with specific eligible children and young people i.e. Cliffdale Primary).

Universal providers are happy to support SEND if they have the capacity, appropriate staff available and suitable facilities and they will be listed as ‘Universal Holiday Club with SEND Support.’

Feedback from a HAF parent/carer from the HAF summer programme from a universal offer:

“…this week my little one with lots of additional needs has…loved it. I was a bit nervous leaving her with others that don’t know her but they’ve dealt with her amazingly. Thank you.”

My child has 1 to 1 support, can they still go to HAF activities?

The HAF programme is inclusive and children and young people who need direct 1 to 1 support are welcome to attend suitable HAF fun activities.

If attending the Enable Ability activities, they can provide 1 to 1 support and will look to do this on an individual basis. Enable Ability will carefully consider each individual child and even come and see you all at home so they can meet your child or young person beforehand. They will be keen to know lots about your child’s strengths and needs and how best they can be supported before they start at the activity. In 2023 Enable Ability will be supporting children and young people with moderate to higher needs, who do not cope with mainstream or universal provision.

For other activity providers options for 1 to 1 support will be looked at individually and close work will be done to consider how best 1 to 1 support can be delivered. They will have listed their activity as ‘Universal Holiday Club with SEND Support.’ For some activities this might be difficult, but each provider will tell you about this once they know more about your child’s needs. 1 to 1 support shouldn’t be a barrier to your child joining an activity and we will do our best to work closely with you and know as much about your child or young person as possible, in advance.

A few providers are listed as ‘Universal Holiday Club’ and this is usually because they do not have the appropriate staff or training to accommodate SEND needs. Please consult with the provider before booking to ensure they can best support your child and their needs.

What is the government HAF programme?

Funded by the Department for Education, funds have been made available to provide free holiday provision, including healthy food and enriching activities, for children aged 5-16 who are eligible for benefits related free school meals.

Aims of the programme

As a result of this programme, we want children who attend this provision to:

  • eat more healthily over the school holidays
  • be more active during the school holidays
  • take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing along with their wider educational attainment
  • be safe and not to be socially isolated
  • have a greater knowledge of health and nutrition
  • be more engaged with school and other local services

We also want to ensure that the families who participate in this programme:

  • develop their understanding of nutrition and food budgeting
  • are signposted towards other information and support, for example, health, employment and education.

You can find out more here from the government website.

What is the eligibility criteria for accessing HAF activities?

Who can access the programme and what is the criteria?

All children and young people aged 5-16 who are eligible for benefits related free school meals can access the programme.

What if my child is vulnerable but doesn’t meet the above criteria?

All children and young people aged 5-16 who are eligible for benefits related free school meals can access the programme.

If your child or young person is vulnerable there is some funding available for a few places. You will need to get your school, social worker or Family hub worker to refer you to the programme. They can do this by completing a form and returning it to the HAF programme co-ordinator. Cases will be considered on their own individual needs.

If you are struggling to speak with your school and would like support from the HAF team, you can send them an email at

Will I have to pay a fee?

If you are an eligible family and get benefits related free school meals (FSM) you will not have to pay.

There are some paid for spaces available on the programme and some of our providers are OFSTED registered so you can use tax free childcare vouchers and if you are on Universal Credit you can back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 17. Check out your childcare options here.

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