North East and national charities have joined forces to provide healthy activities for hundreds of Tyneside children during the summer holiday.

The driving forces behind the programme – which will take place over five weeks – are the Blakelaw Ward Community Partnership and the Newcastle-based Hat-Trick, which uses sport to help change the lives of children and young people living in disadvantaged areas.

The two charities have received help from another local charity – the Rothley Trust – and two UK-wide organisations: Children in Need and The Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All.

“We are so grateful for all the support,” said Leanne Risk from the Blakelaw Ward Community Partnership.  “We think it’s really important to offer exciting and healthy things to do for the children and young people who live in this area.”

The holiday clubs, for five to 12-year-olds, will run from 10am – 2pm every Monday to Thursday from 24 July to 24 August.  They will be held at Blakelaw and Simonside.  Two other events – summer parties called Park Lives – will take place on 4 August at Blakelaw Park and 11 August at Gala Field Park in Newbiggen Hall. Further details can be found at www.loveblakelaw.com

As well as sport, the holiday clubs will offer creative activities and each of the five weeks will focus on countries around the world and their food.

“We want to encourage an interest in different healthy food – both cooking and eating,” said Leanne, “but we will still provide healthy sandwiches just in case.”

During this year’s Easter school holidays the Blakelaw Partnership pioneered a project called Fit and Fed which ensured children from families with lower incomes were properly fed in the absence of a free school meal.

“It’s expensive for all families during the school holidays and not everybody can afford things like holiday clubs and sports clubs.  We’re dealing with places where people don’t have access to those sort of things or the income to pay for them – and that’s the gap we’re all looking to fill,” said Leanne.

The Partnership is asking for a donation of £1 for each of the summer holiday club sessions, but stresses that no child will be excluded. Parents are also welcome to come along for lunch.

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