LEYF has taken a firm stand for helping as many children as possible through the pressures of Covid-19. However, the most vulnerable children at its nurseries are facing extremely difficult circumstances.
To support the most vulnerable children LEYF is hosting free holiday clubs at two of its London-based nurseries this summer. These clubs will support many children who have had to miss out on nursery during the lockdown.
While in lockdown there have been a lot of children that have had to isolate in high rise flats with no access to outdoor space and in general, little room to play as much as they should be. Mental health is a growing concern among children and it has only heightened during lockdown.
There are many damaging long-term consequences for children that don’t have enough physical contact with other children and adults.
In June, a group of leading psychologists sent an open letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson highlighting that the isolation of lockdown is harming already vulnerable children.
Prof Ellen Townsend, professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, who organised the letter, said mental health problems such as anxiety were already rising in young people before lockdown. There is evidence that growing feelings of loneliness and social isolation as a result of school closures during the pandemic could be making that worse.
These holiday clubs have been specially designed to boost activity levels and decrease sedentary time in young children.
- football coaching,
- hoop ball,
- yoga & meditation
- speech & language activities,
- music and reading.
- Cooking healthy meals after which they will be given a special Meal Deal that includes simple recipe cards and all the ingredients to take home.
The cooking help is to encourage a healthier approach to food and diet. CEO of LEYF, June O’Sullivan has been calling for free school meals to be extended past the summer holidays amid concerns that nutritional inequalities are rapidly increasing.
June O’Sullivan – CEO of London Early Years Foundation said: ‘It is well known that children born into poverty are more likely to have significantly different life chances, and these differences take hold early. Disadvantaged children face an educational gap right from the start and it widens quickly unless tackled. This is why funding holiday clubs such as these are crucial to a child’s learning and development – especially given the current pandemic and how it has impacted negatively on so many lives.’
Tina Georgiou – nursery manager at Eastbury Nursery and Pre-School in Dagenham explained: ‘During lockdown, some of our children have really struggled in dealing with the fears their parents were experiencing such as not being able to leave their homes for daily fresh air or not attending nursery and seeing their friends and teachers. All of this stopped so abruptly, with no notice or preparation for the children. The holiday club has been a life saver for many families – helping them to readjust to a new normal.’
Christel Brown – nursery manager at Angel Pre-School in South Westminster added:
‘Whilst providing a level playing field for our children, the holiday club is also supporting some of our most disadvantaged families with school uniform vouchers, shoes and a school readiness pack. This includes everything a child will need to start primary school such as a pencil case, pens, erasers and sharpeners and a water bottle.’