The school summer holidays should be a time when children get to enjoy themselves and have fun.
However, for many families it can be an extremely challenging time of year that brings extra pressures and costs.
More households are reliant on food banks in July and August than the rest of the year, according to the Trussell Trust charity. In Leeds North and West alone, 8,054 three-day emergency food supplies were distributed, with 3,038 of those packages going to children. The figure was up on last year.
For many parents, the break means paying for extra childcare and paying for activities to keep youngsters entertained. But in the wake of funding cuts from central Government, it is increasingly difficult for Leeds City Council to lay on activities for children over the summer.
It is great to see the success of places like New Wortley Community Centre in my constituency of Leeds West and other venues that put on events for youngsters. But it is clear that more activities for young people need to be laid on throughout the community, not confined solely to youth clubs or community centres.
That’s why I welcome the council’s initiative to offer youth services in places like the Wyther Park Estate every Monday throughout August. The mobile library and the youth services van with its activities for children have proved very popular. The council is also taking part in Pop Up Sports which is an exciting way of providing good sports coaching for youngsters at places where youngsters might not have easy access to a sports club.
There can never be enough decent, affordable activities for children over the summer. I hope we can build on the existing events to help ease some of the pressure that some families face over the summer.