Autumn Adventures at Planet Botanic Holiday Club!
Reading Time 3 minutes and 10 seconds
Date 9 November 2023
Our Planet Botanic Holiday Club enjoyed two weeks of awesome autumn activities this October break! We were thrilled to be able to offer over one hundred fully funded sessions to almost 20 children and their families, thanks to support from the St Andrews Community Trust.
For many families, the school holidays can be a financial strain, causing anxiety about finding affordable childcare, in combination with increased energy bills and reduced food security without receiving the Free School Meals provided for their children during term time. Many families in this position find themselves unable to spare money for days out and educational experiences, causing worry or guilt that their children are missing out in comparison to their peers.
Our Holiday Club programme aims to reduce this stress on families by providing a safe, supportive environment during the school holidays, including educational and stimulating outdoor activities – bridging the gap for families who otherwise would struggle to afford childcare and days out. Snacks, lunches and travel funding are also provided, reducing financial barriers to taking part in the sessions, as well as ensuring that children involved are receiving nutritious lunches in lieu of Free School Meals.
This autumn, we welcomed both new and returning Holiday Club participants from across Fife. Families most in need were allocated spaces through a partnership approach working with Fife Council local schools and other third sector organisations to ensure we could support local families who would benefit the most from this programme.
Our Holiday Club had an action-packed fortnight, taking part in a huge range of exciting seasonal activities including campfires, potion making, apple juicing & bug hunt, and themed days all about Magic, Wildlife and Survival Skills! Marshmallow toasting and our Exploratree play area were favourite activities for the group - “[my daughter’s] favourite part of the gardens, in her words, is ‘the fire and the park’”.
One of the key benefits to children who take part in Holiday Club is the improved confidence that results from meeting new people and engaging with new activities and environments. This was a common observation from both our staff and families taking part, with many sharing how much their children had ‘come out of their shells’ and found their confidence again - “It allowed my son the opportunity to find his passion for outdoor play and plants again. He is more confident and more resilient when it comes to going to new places… [I] feel like I have my boy back”.
The Holiday Club programme also provides a safe environment for the children involved to meet new people and form new friendships outwith school. One mum shared that “[her son] has met a variety of different people he wouldn't of otherwise and has formed a few friends outwith his usual group.”
Parents and carers also shared the positive impact that being part of the Holiday Club programme has brought them, and the rest of their family. Many commented that not having to focus on childcare during the school holidays had a significant benefit to their finances and mental health, with one parent sharing how “It helped massively after coming out of homelessness I was able to concentrate on work/uni rather than finding money for childcare. The money I saved helped go toward white goods.”
Families also shared how the programme enabled their children to take part in activities they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, alleviating concerns that their children were falling behind or missing out during the October break – “Without the funded place, I unfortunately wouldn’t be able to afford the group as my budget is tight, it’s such a weight off my mind/‘mum guilt’ when I can know she has the group to look forward to”.
Our staff love seeing how much children at Holiday Club grow in confidence throughout the sessions, seeing them bond as a group and make new friends. Our Education Lead Calum explained, "Working with the children at the holiday club provides a great sense of achievement for both myself and the rest of the team. It’s particularly rewarding watching the children gain in confidence and skills over the week.” Our team are very proud of our Holiday Club team who go above and beyond to support the families that attend.
We’re so grateful for support from the St Andrews Community Trust which allowed us to run our funded Holiday Club programme this October break!