FAMILIES across Hampshire have been reassured their children will receive free meals and other support over the upcoming school holidays.

Hampshire County Council and holiday club providers are preparing for the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme where support will be given to vulnerable school-aged children over the summer. 

Free places are available for those on benefits-related free school meals, children with special educational needs and other vulnerable groups, such as refugee children.   

Funded by the Department for Education and delivered by the county council, the HAF programme will take place over 140 sites across the county.

READ MORE: Woman increases book pledge for all Hampshire Hospitals

The programme will partner with local clubs, community groups, art associations and larger holiday club providers. 

Cllr Edward Heron, the council's cabinet member for children's services, said: "The HAF programme has brought tremendous benefits to many vulnerable Hampshire children and their families over the past 12 months.

"Our children’s services teams have worked extremely hard to bring together local businesses, charities, schools and a broad range of services from across the county to help ensure that school holidays provide positive opportunities for thousands of children who might not otherwise experience the leisure and learning activities that many families may take for granted." 

A highlight from the HAF annual report is the contribution of county council services, including outdoor learning and education teams, boosting the success of the programme. 

By running Bikeability courses, budgeting, food waste and healthy eating workshops, the training has helped support families. 

Support available during the cost-of-living crisis has also been signposted to families, such as the Household Support Fund, which assists those in need with food and utility costs.