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Press release25 August 2023

Clarion Futures and Merton Council team up with the AFC Wimbledon Foundation

Additional funding from our charitable foundation helps to provide free childcare for local families over the school holidays.

Last week [17 August], Leader of Merton Council, Cllr Ross Garrod, joined representatives from Clarion Futures to visit a holiday club at St Mark’s Academy in Mitcham Eastfields run by the AFC Wimbledon Foundation that the three organisations have jointly funded.

Running Monday to Thursday for five weeks over the summer break, the holiday club provides a wealth of activities for children and young people aged 8-16. Those aged 8-12 take part in the Active Dons programme which includes multisport, arts and crafts, and dance and drama sessions. For those aged 12 and over, there is a free football camp focusing on teamwork, improving skills and communication, as well as competitive tournaments.

Those attending receive a free lunch every day as well as healthy snacks, making it a fantastic source of support for parents unable to afford expensive holiday clubs.

Financial support for the scheme is provided by Merton Council through the government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. HAF was established to support low-income families outside of term-time by providing healthy food and enriching activities to children eligible for free school meals.

Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group which owns and manages thousands of homes across the borough, has provided around £10,000 in additional funding, meaning the holiday club can run for an extra hour each day and paying for a member of staff to support children with special educational needs.

The funding provided by Clarion Futures also covers the cost of places on the scheme for children not eligible for free school meals, helping to support more families living locally in need of affordable childcare over the summer break.

Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures, said:

“The holiday club run by the AFC Wimbledon Foundation is fantastic, helping children and young people get active and providing free childcare over the summer holidays. We’re delighted to be teaming up with Merton Council to top up the funding they provide, making sure the scheme is open to all those in need of support and not just families eligible for free school meals.”

Cllr Ross Garrod, Leader of Merton Council, said:

“We are very happy to be working with our partners, the AFC Wimbledon Foundation and Clarion Futures, on this essential project. This is in addition to the wide range of measures we have introduced to help with the cost of living crisis, providing a safety net for families who have been left wanting by this government.

“We have had 18,000 bookings across the Holiday Activities and Food programme, up from 10,000 last year, and we continue to support children and families across the borough during this cost of living crisis.”

Fiona Sutherland, Community Development Manager at the AFC Wimbledon Foundation, said:

“Working with Merton Council, Clarion Futures and other local organisations enables us to offer fun, inclusive, engaging, and active summer camps to residents of Merton completely free of charge, which is essential to ensure the security and wellbeing of not only children over the holiday period but also their families. We love welcoming new participants to our camps, and also see returning faces who grow and develop year on year. In fact, now we have introduced a Dons Interns programme to cater for those who are too old to attend the camp to come back as volunteers!”