During 2014 the Planning for Real Unit worked alongside partners from the Accord Group, Family Action and Birmingham City University to explore the social impact of Holiday Kitchen, a project which offers ‘Holiday learning, food and play for families who need it most’.
For many vulnerable and low income families, school holidays mean the disappearance of Free School Meals, regular social contact and play opportunities. This can result in financial, emotional, nutritional, safeguarding, educational and/or social challenges that have longer-term impacts.
Based on a simple formula of Holiday learning, food and play for families who need it most, Holiday Kitchen, pioneered by the Accord Group, works to address these holiday challenges in the target neighbourhoods.
In the Summer of 2014, Holiday Kitchen worked with local and national partners to co-deliver 2,300 activity days and meals to almost 300 participants across 11 sites in Birmingham, Sandwell and North Solihull.
The evaluation team explored the social impact of Holiday Kitchen in relation to its core objectives:
- Improved social inclusion and aspiration
- Improved family nutrition and well-being
- Reduced financial and emotional strain.
The Planning for Real Unit took the lead in designing bespoke evaluation tools and materials to use with the children and families who attended the Holiday Kitchen. The Planning for Real ethos is that techniques should be highly visual, tactile, participatory and community-led and this approach underpinned the design of the evaluation activities.
The Planning for Real Unit also carried out a ‘light-touch’ SROI analysis of one of the delivery venues in order to explore how investment has been returned upon in a specific section.
The conclusions of the evaluation indicate that Holiday Kitchen is an extremely effective programme for meeting the needs of low-income children and families during holiday periods and, relationally, in addressing the Child Poverty agenda laid out in the 2010 Child Poverty Act.
Based on the evaluation feedback from children, parents, staff and volunteers, key recommendations are made for supporting the expansion of Holiday Kitchen activities.
You can find out more about the Holiday Kitchen on the Accord Group website.