The long summer school holidays can eat into any family budget, and with the current cost of living crisis, finances are stretched thinner than ever.
But you can do lots for free, right on your doorstep. As well as the playgrounds and award-winning parks found all over the borough, there is lots else to get stuck into. Here’s a taster.
Activities are being organised for Ealing Council’s free Holiday Activity and Food programme (HAF) at locations across the borough. It is available to children and young people in receipt of free school meals, and some limited additional places are given to other vulnerable children and young people. Activities range from educational trips to dancing, from athletics to arts and crafts, and from cookery to film making. Children are also given a midday meal.
The programme of activities will run from 31 July–1 September and bookings will be taken close to the school holidays – so keep an eye on the HAF pages.
Councillor Kamaljit Nagpal, the council’s cabinet member for a fairer start, said: “This is a great programme of fun and activities which includes a healthy meal for every child attending. And all for free. If you have a child who is in receipt of benefits-related free school meals, I urge you to find out more.”
A fun family day out
Gunnersbury Park Museum is a special place to explore, play games, dress up and investigate objects together to discover what life was like for families in the past.
It has free family trails available all year round. Pick up a Passport Trail, follow the clues, collect the stamps and you’re in with the chance of winning a fluffy toy animal to keep, inspired by the wildlife in Gunnersbury Park, which is jointly owned by Hounslow and Ealing councils. Find out more.
Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery is running free art workshops each Sunday throughout the holidays and drop-in art workshops during weekdays.
There is also a creative summer holiday camp, with each day led by an artist, which is free to families in receipt of free school meals, universal credit or jobseekers’ allowance and reduced to £20 for families with a low income.
Free fun for older children
Ealing Youth Service provides a range of services across the borough – including 3 main youth centres, a wide array of projects and neighbourhood activities.
This summer, the council’s service is putting on a number of free activities for 11-19 year-olds (or up to 25 if you have additional needs) on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, 6.30-9pm.
You can get involved in trying your hand at a music studio, cooking, art and craft, sports, box fit, games and competitions or Oculus VR/Play Station/Xbox. You can make new friends or just chill with your mates – this is at both:
• Westside Young People’s Centre – Churchfield Road Ealing W13 9NF
• Young Adult Centre (YAC) Park View Road Southall UB1 3HJ.
At Westside on Wednesday evenings (6.30-9pm), there is also an additional Disability Project session for young people with additional needs or a disability, aged 11-25.
Find out more – including details of activities in Acton, Greenford and Northolt.
Not just books
Take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, a fictional summer obstacle course brought to life with illustrations by children’s illustrator Loretta Schauer. There are prizes for each book read, and once completed you’ll be rewarded with a winner’s medal.
“But your local library is not just about books,” said Councillor Polly Knewstub, the council’s cabinet member for thriving communities. “Throughout the summer holidays there are lots of free, fun activities with even more to come.”
Discover how creative you can be with coding and tech at Ealing Central Library, where you can build a robot and write the code to make its legs and eyes move and respond to your commands. And, if the human body is your thing, join in with Jones the Bones at Northolt and Southall libraries, using a life size skeleton to find out how organs and muscles work. Rhyme Runners at Acton and Ealing Central libraries is a fun learning experience through poems, song and comedy capers.
For more library free fun activities, keep an eye on the events page and go online for details of summer activities at Northfields Community Library.