Services for Young People (SfYP) summer 2023 holiday activity programmes were for young people aged 12-16 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals. They ran for five days a week for three weeks during the school summer holidays in all districts of Hertfordshire. The activities promoted physical and mental health and the young people enjoyed a free nutritious meal each day.
This year's programmes provided a huge variety of developmental activities and saw a significant increase in the number of young people attending. Young people took part in cooking workshops, learning about food hygiene and making healthy eating choices. Creative activities, including painting and sculpture, encouraged mindfulness and discussions about mental health. The emotional wellbeing of the participants was also boosted from taking part in physical activities every day. The young people also had a chance to try more adventurous outdoor activities such as raft building, kayaking and archery.
Learning to cook at the Ware Young People's Centre
Many of the sessions were supported by partner organisations. The Watford, Three Rivers and Hertsmere teams welcomed Metro Bank to deliver financial literacy workshops and lead discussions about opening bank accounts. Young people also engaged well with a Change Grow Lives (CGL) workshop, learning about the effects of drugs, alcohol and the law.
Learning first aid techniques and how to use defibrillators at the Harpenden Young People’s Centre
Young people attending the Dacorum Team programme took part in a special workshop run by the National Youth Orchestra. They had the opportunity to listen to live orchestral music performed by inspiring teenage musicians, experiment with different musical instruments, and create their own music.
The National Youth Orchestra paid an inspirational visit to the Dacorum Team programme
Sports coaches at the East Herts, Broxbourne, and Welwyn Hatfield programmes led relay races, badminton, volleyball and football. They also played team games which developed the young people’s interpersonal, communication and problem-solving skills. The North Herts and Stevenage groups celebrated the end of their successful programmes with an off-site trip to a local Bounce trampoline exercise class.
Football and basketball at Ware Young People's Centre
In addition to planned activities, SfYP Youth Workers were responsive to young people's requests during the programmes and adapted the sessions to meet their needs. For example, a young person at the Waltham Cross Young People’s Centre wanted to create a video about personal safety. Staff supported her to successfully plan and complete this project, inspiring other young people to become involved. She said: "I'm so happy I can come somewhere to learn videography and video editing skills. I don't have the facilities to do this myself. I will be attending more to carry on with these projects."
Young people challenging themselves to try climbing and caving at the XC Centre as part of the Dacorum Team programme
Throughout the programmes, SfYP Youth Workers offered invaluable emotional support for young people. This enabled those with low confidence and anxiety to fully participate in activities they may have otherwise avoided. One of the young people who is home educated and has struggled with social anxiety, was able to engage with the programme, finding it to be a safe space for her. The coping strategies she learnt have enabled her to consider joining term-time SfYP projects and other extra-curricular activities to pursue interests sparked by the programme and widen her support network.
Two of the young people had been missing from education and one had been excluded from school. They are both now getting continued support from SfYP to re-enter education. Having suffered with feelings of boredom, isolation, and a lack of friends, they both had the chance to develop essential social skills, form supportive friendships and gain practical life skills, boosting their confidence for the transition back to school. One of them said, “I had a great time, even when my friend left the programme. I am glad I came back for the whole of the week. The staff were great and I enjoyed cooking and badminton.”
Parents and carers told us about the positive changes they noticed, with one parent saying, "My son has grown in confidence and is now feeling more independent. They were not able to travel independently before and now feel they can do so."
Feedback from some of the young people:
“I love cooking now, I never knew how to do it before and now I feel I can.”
“It’s nice to be able to come somewhere and feel comfortable, I can always talk to someone if I feel low.”
“I feel I learn a lot from being here.”
"I have had a great time, good to have things to do and I've made new friends."
All young people who attended were invited to join our term-time projects to receive continued support.
Our autumn 2023 projects start on 11 September. Get full details here: