Services for Young People Hertfordshire Services for Young People

HAPpy Holiday Activity Programmes support young people’s physical and mental health over the summer holidays

30 August 2022

The summer 2022 Services for Young People HAPpy Holiday Activity Programmes were well attended and received fantastic feedback from both the young people who took part and their parents/carers.

Services for Young People (SfYP) ran HAPpy holiday programmes in all 10 districts of Hertfordshire this summer. They were for young people who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals and ran five days a week for the first three weeks of the summer holidays. Over 250 young people attended the programmes, meeting and socialising with new people, taking part in inspiring activities and getting a free healthy lunch every day.

Through a wide range of fun teambuilding challenges, sports and problem-solving games, the participants developed their interpersonal skills and adaptability. They also developed their cooking skills in the training kitchens in our young people’s centres, learning about the benefits of making meals from scratch and increasing their knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating.

They explored how having a healthy lifestyle is about more than eating well and exercising, but also encompasses maintaining good mental health, positive relationships and keeping themselves safe.

While learning about personal safety the young people engaged in debates/discussions about gangs and knife crime. They discussed different risks to their safety and how they can prevent/protect against them, whether they are on the street, at home, online or at school.

Many of the sessions were supported by external partners, for example, Change Grow Live delivered interactive sessions on drugs and alcohol, and the physical and personal consequences of substance misuse. Police officers from the Hertsmere Safer Neighbourhood Team and plain clothes investigators came to discuss their roles and talked about how they work with young people in the community.

Herts Young Homeless led sessions on homelessness, giving the young people a better understanding of what it is like to live away from parents/carers and where to get support should they be faced with homelessness themselves.

A professional filmmaker led a session on making short films, demonstrating the equipment and editing tools and talking about filming angles and script writing. He helped a group of young people to create a short film: ‘A tour of Potters Bar Young People’s Centre’ as they wanted to raise awareness of the great facilities available to young people there.

Every session also involved sports or physical activities, for example, at the Bowes Lyon Young People’s Centre A-Z Basketball and Warriorz Performing Arts Academy led basketball and dance sessions. Other physical activities were dodgeball, football, badminton and tennis. At the Herts Young Mariners Base a group did orienteering, canoeing, paddle boarding, football and rounders.


The Dacorum group took part in climbing and caving at the XC Centre and visited the Dacorum Athletics Track at Jarman Park where they were supported by staff from Everyone Active to join in activities including long jump, shot put, high jump and relay events.

Feedback from some of the young people attending the programmes:

“It has helped me be healthy and have healthy relationships with people.”

“I am glad I came as I would have just been at home all day.”

“I have enjoyed learning how to cook… being able to take what I have learnt home and show my mum what I can do.”

“Climbing was amazing, I have never tried it before.”

“It is fun here and I can talk to the staff about how I am feeling.”

“During the last few weeks, I have made loads of new friends which I don’t always find easy.”


Parents and carers said:

“HAPpy gave my daughter a safe space to grow… and be more positive… I have noticed a real growth in confidence and self-esteem… It was a chance to destress and allow young people to just be themselves.”

“We have noticed due to the project she is able to be more articulate in sharing her thoughts and feelings, not only to us but to her peers… it was incredibly positive and supported her mental health. She has also improved in her knowledge and general life skills. We are thrilled to see this development.”

“Both [of my] boys enjoy coming to the project. It’s good for them to have something positive to do in the holidays. Every day they are excited to go to the HAPpy project.”


All young people who attended were invited to join our term-time projects to receive continued support. Our autumn 2022 projects start on 19 September. Get full details here:

SfYP projects in your area