This summer, LJWB adapted its school holiday programme to meet a vital support need for the community.

With COVID-19 restrictions leading to a reduction in Leeds Jewish Welfare Board’s (LJWB) regular TimeOut Summerscheme service, this year it prioritised children with additional needs.

During the lockdown the community support organisation found that the families it supported were particularly struggling where a child in the family had a special educational need or disability. Victoria Sandler, LJWB marketing coordinator, said: “For these children in particular, well-supported activities outside the home are a vital respite for parents, children and siblings alike. Sadly, lockdown put an end to all of these activities, both at LJWB and elsewhere, so we were determined to provide a much-needed summer holiday provision to help these families during this difficult time.”

Leeds City Council Inner North East and Outer North East Community Committees generously provided financial support towards the primary-age programme which ran for three weeks during the school holiday. Located at the MAZCC, it used dedicated spaces and the enclosed outside area to provide a wide range of activities for the children, with one bubble of four children attending each week. Sports, Lego, games, arts and crafts, and free play were run throughout the week, with a special visit from Hello Hip Hop for educational dance and graffiti sessions.

Parents commented on how valuable the provision was for their children and families: “I was very happy when I  found out you would be running Summerscheme because I was not sure what I would do for so long in the holidays. It’s a really big help. My son came back home the first day and said: ‘I’ve had the best ever amazing day’. It has reduced his anxieties loads because he was really anxious about going back to school after shielding for so long. This has massively reduced that, for him and me.”