Children and young people in Manchester are set to benefit from a summer-long programme of activities to help get them out and about and help combat the effects of living in isolation for the last few months.
The council is talking to schools, youth providers and others – including parents and young people themselves – about what is needed and to funding agencies, businesses, and other organisations about how to make these plans happen.
The plan is being drawn up by the council in a bid to directly tackle the negative impact that being out of school and away from their friends is known to have had on the city’s 87,000 school aged children and young people.
The plans being put in place would see some school sites and other venues used across the city for a range of different activities for children from 4-16 years of age.
Although some school sites will be used, activities will be provided by youth and leisure providers and not by schools themselves.
The council is also looking at ways of addressing holiday hunger for the city’s 28,000 children who are currently eligible for a free school meal, as part of the overall activities package.
“There has been no level playing field for anyone during the corona crisis – much less for our children whose background circumstances are all very different,” said Cllr Garry Bridges.
“We are in no doubt that although all of our families have been affected by the virus in one way or another, the difficulties affecting the poorest and therefore most vulnerable of our families in Manchester will have taken even more of a toll on them.
“We can’t stand by and see their health, well-being, and life chances disappear during the long summer holidays whilst those who can – who have the cash – emerge from lockdown and head straight for the luggage rack, picking up their pre-lockdown lives exactly where they left off.
“We want our summer programme to be a game-changer: to make an immediate and real difference to this generation of children and young people who – through no fault of their own – have had their lives put on hold for the last few months. It’s important that we recognise how difficult this has been for them, and imperative that we act now to reverse the impact it has had.”