An evaluation of Southwark Council’s summer 2022 Holiday Activities and Food programme

Evaluation Completed November 2023


Watch a video describing the PHIRST evaluation of Southwark Council’s Summer 2022 Holiday and Food program


What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

Southwark Council would like to gain a greater understanding of the acceptability, reach, and benefits of their Holiday Activities and Food programme to the families and children that they serve. Additionally, they are interested in the wider impact of their programme on the local food network and the connections made with organisations within the Borough of Southwark and beyond.

The findings from the research will not only feed back into the future delivery of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, but may also inform Southwark Council’s related strategies on food insecurity, climate change and sustainable food, and healthy weight.

What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?

In 2021, the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme engaged almost three quarters of a million children across England. Not only was there high demand, but many physical and mental health benefits for those children and their parents and carers that participated.

Building on this, the PHIRST Fusion evaluation of Southwark Council’s HAF will help the council to better understand their specific programme and identify where improvement can be made for future delivery. This will ensure that the children and young people, as well as their parents and carers, are best served.


How are the public involved in the project?

Patient and public involvement is embedded into all aspects of the research development. The public will be involved in the development of survey material, including the development of a questionnaire and interview topic guides. The public will also support the development of material and outputs used for knowledge mobilisation and dissemination of findings.

Lay Summary

For many families in England the school holidays are challenging time. Many children are missing out on organised activities, experiencing social isolation, and suffering from holiday hunger. In response the Government first launched the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. This is a fund of £200m, which is managed by the Department for Education. All local authorities across England can apply to it to help support their locally delivered holiday and food activities.

The London Borough of Southwark has commissioned a number of organisations to provide a range of activities for those children in receipt of free school meals during school holidays in 2022. Activities include sports, culture, science & technology, aimed to suit children across a range of ages and personalities. Organisations also provide participating children with free healthy and tasty food to keep them sustained through the day's activities.

The Department for Education is keen to ensure that the Holiday Activities and Food programme is delivered as they intended it to be and want to understand if those children enrolled are suitably benefiting.

Our project will work closely with Southwark Council and other local stakeholders to add further to the insight and understanding gained from the national evaluation of the HAF programme. Our academic researchers will spend time in Southwark with those coordinating their programme, the delivery partners, the children and their parents or carers. We would like to understand the challenges that they face, and benefits children and the families are gaining by being part of the programme. We will also seek to detail any other learning or benefits there are from the programme for the council's related strategies on food insecurity, climate change and sustainable food, and healthy weight.

An evaluation of Southwark Council's summer 2022 Holiday Activities and Food programme - NIHR Funding and Awards

Local Authority/Partner(s)

Southwark Council

PHIRST Fusion Research Team

Newcastle University
Prof Ashley Adamson
Dr Eilish Crilley
Ms Laura Denning
Dr Louis Goffe
Dr Bronia Arnott
Dr Jen Bradley
Dr Lorraine McSweeney

University of Glasgow
Dr Nai Rui Chng