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Local Programme Helps Over 4000 Disadvantaged Children in Kent

May 31, 2022 | News

A Swale Community Leisure led project has been shortlisted as a finalist for the ukactive Awards 2022. This is in the ’Developing & Supporting Communities’ category; following a programme that helped over 4000 disadvantaged children in Kent.

School holidays can be a particular pressure point for some families because of increased costs, including food, childcare, and also reduced incomes. However, in 2021 and into 2022, each of our Kent’s five Leisure facilities were selected to deliver a comprehensive and impactful FREE programme to disadvantaged children and their families.

Swale Community Leisure (SCL), Maidstone Leisure Trust, Tenterden Leisure Centre Trust and the Meopham Sports & Leisure Association are a group of charitable trusts operating five leisure facilities in the County of Kent.

The joint programme saw over 1000s of local children not only benefit from nutritious meals, but it also provided fun and enhanced enrichment content, nutritional advice and guidance for children, and also family-time activities to work alongside our high quality physical activity offering.

James Reynolds said, "Working through Swale Community Leisure and their amazing community team, we have had to get creative; involving organisations such as Age UK on the hot food provision and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust on nutritional advice and guidance for children and families. The scheme ran alongside the programme of holiday events at each of the leisure sites, whilst offering the usual full range of sport and exercise activities, including swimming, soft play, football, climbing and other dryside sports.”

Although the scheme was run as a joint venture between the Trusts and Serco Leisure, SCL took the lead role regarding the concept and bookings, Dave Harcourt, Chief Executive Officer at Swale Community Leisure said, “It’s great to see the recognition for everybody involved. We all constantly strive to deliver an invaluable community service and this project is a clear vindication of our collaborative approach, strengthening what we can offer collectively”.

Carla Still, Dryside & Programming Manager loved meeting the children, “Two children told me that they were having ‘the best day ever’. One, because he was in Mote Park, and the other because he had meatballs for lunch! The sad fact is that for some children this was their only hot meal that week, and to be in a position to help children and young people reconnect to health and happiness, missed learning since COVID, as well as outdoor activities and sport, has been so rewarding.”

One parent commented, “It’s great the children had the opportunity to swim as I have epilepsy which means I am unable to take them myself”.

Swale Community Leisure (SCL), Maidstone Leisure Trust, Tenterden Leisure Centre Trust and the Meopham Sports & Leisure Association, are now also working on another initiative aiming to provide further opportunities for children and young people through sport and leisure activities: Reconnect - Kent. This is a County Council led, community-based programme designed to get Kent’s children and young people thriving following the pandemic.

Clubs, businesses, and organisations have come together to create fabulous opportunities for children. They can have fun, catch up on missed learning, engage in sports and activities, trips and experiences, receive mental health support, regain their confidence and gain access to career development opportunities.

Find out more about the ukactive Awards.

Find out more about the Reconnect Programme in Kent.