Summer holidays can be a difficult time for our families. They have to arrange childcare for six weeks or take time off work in order to look after their children themselves. Many of the families we work with receive free school meals and the summer holidays mean that they are deprived of that balanced, cooked meal. They can also be a very boring time for the children. Days which are normally spent being mentally challenged in a classroom and playing with their friends are now spent at home with limited opportunities as parents either cannot afford to take them out or are not well enough.
This is why our outings programme is so important. We aim to run more outings during the summer holidays than we do for other holidays throughout the year. The reasons for this are two-fold; there is more time to fill in the summer and it is easier to run larger, cheaper outings such as visits to the park with a picnic and games or to the Olympic Park fountains and playground.
This year we decided to take advantage of the heatwave and visit the Clacton seaside! Several of our parents also joined us and it was lovely to see them playing with their children in the waves. Our outings have always aimed to be a respite for parents and children and this outing to the beach definitely seemed to fit the bill. We ate our picnic on the sand before playing a very competitive game of rounders!
We also took our primary school children to Paradise Wildlife Park. It is such a family-friendly place. There were slides and playground equipment scattered around the animal section so the children could run around if they got bored of looking at the animals which luckily did not happen! The enclosures were well-maintained and spacious with regular feeding times so everyone got to see their favourites. We used the picnic area to eat our lunch and watch the dance show put on by the staff before heading off to the dinosaurs. Each child was given an activity booklet with stickers of the dinosaurs we would see and they all enjoyed sticking them all over the booklets and each other! It can be hard with a large group of varying ages to ensure that everyone is entertained and Paradise Wildlife Park literally had something for everyone which always makes an outing easier!