A Scottish Government commission on child poverty has highlighted the work done by North Lanarkshire Council through its Club 365 programme.
The Poverty and Inequality Commission investigated the club’s efforts to support children during school holidays.
In North Lanarkshire, the Club 365 programme saw primary school pupils who were entitled to free school meals continue to receive them during school holidays and weekends.
The programme, which also offers fun sports activities, was piloted at four venues in Coatbridge in April of this year, before being rolled out across the local authority area.
In its report, the commission stated: “Commissioners visited a number of holiday projects during the 2018 summer holidays.
“These included three projects run by North Lanarkshire Council as part of its Club 365 work, a project at Dalmarnock primary school in Glasgow, and a YMCA holiday project in Edinburgh.
“While at the projects commissioners spoke to parents, children and staff about their views and experiences of holiday provision.
“In addition to visiting the projects, members of the commission had discussions with a number of voluntary organisations running relevant projects or programmes, with local authority and COSLA officials, with Scottish Government officials and with other policy experts.
“Members of the commission talked to parents at a community hub in Fife and One Parent Families Scotland also undertook a discussion group with parents on behalf of the commission.
“The Children’s Parliament shared some thoughts about summer holidays from their Aberdeen Imagineers with the commission.
“The commission also held a round table discussion to test its thinking with a number of people from third sector organisations, local authorities and parents.”
The report recommends that the government gives families extra financial support during school holidays, targeting its funding at services which demonstrate how they can support families during these times.
The commission also wants the government and other agencies to create a joint strategy to support families during school holidays.
The council’s education convener, Frank McNally, said: “Poverty and inequality remains the burning issue of our time and while we still have much to do to ensure it is eradicated, Club 365 is making a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable families in North Lanarkshire.
“Education is one of the best ways out of poverty, which is why our Labour administration has delivered one of the highest school uniform clothing grants in Scotland, secured breakfast clubs in every primary school and rolled out free sanitary products in all our schools. We are also investing millions in improving our school estate.
“We are doing the best we can with the powers we have to give our young people the best possible start in life.
“As we near this year’s Scottish budget announcement, it’s time the Scottish Government provided North Lanarkshire Council with an assurance that there will be no cuts to its budget for next year, so we can build on our strong record and continue to tackle poverty head on.”
The next round of Club 365 sessions will be held from Saturday, December 22, to Monday, December 24, and Thursday, December 27, to Monday, December 31, as well as Thursday, January 3, to Sunday, January 6.
North Lanarkshire Council is providing free meals for P1 to P7 pupils who are entitled to free school meals, along with games and fun activities.
For the first time sessions will be available in Kilsyth and Shotts as the council continues its commitment to rolling out the scheme.
The following venues are open from 11.30am to 1.30pm each day: Bellshill Academy, Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life and Old Monkland School Community Wing in Coatbridge, Cumbernauld Academy, Garrell Vale Community Centre in Kilsyth, Glenmanor Primary School in Moodiesburn and Burnhead Community Centre in Viewpark.
There is no need to pre-book but for more details call 01236 812314 or visit www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/club365.