Churches in Sussex are preparing to reach hundreds of children of all ages with exciting holiday clubs and activities during the school holidays. Some churches will also be providing free meals.
The holiday clubs and activities will be run by volunteers from churches across the diocese throughout the holidays.
We spoke to four churches to find out what they are offering.
St Peter’s church in Selsey will be running a lunch activity holiday club in collaboration with the Selsey Lions Club and Youth Dream, a charity which provides youth services in the community.
The church will be hosting children's lunches and activities and is aimed at children who would normally receive free school meals.
Andrew Wilkes, the Rector of St Peter’s Church Selsey said: “It is so important for the parish church to be involved in this. The summer holidays can be a stressful time for families who may be struggling for various reasons. Working together with local partners we hope that providing meals and fun activities, in a safe and secure environment, will mean one less thing to worry about. After all, lending a helping hand to our neighbours is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.”
At St Richard’s church in Hollingdean, Brighton a summer club will be operating for the first time in partnership with a Council Program called HAF (Holiday Activities & food)
Maleni Simarro moved to Brighton recently with her husband Quin to lead a church partnership into St Richard's (Hollingdean) from St Matthias (Fiveways). As community pastor, Maleni has been involved closely with organising children and youth activities. She said: “At this very, very early stage, our approach to the holiday club is about getting to know local families.
“Working in partnership with the local authority and other organisations is our first step to connecting with schools and getting to know the needs of the community.
“The holiday club programme provides a hot meal and daily activities that involve fitness and learning about healthy eating, plus other fun workshops. It is free to any child on free school meals or £12.50 for the day.
At Christ church Ore, in Hastings children are invited to be treasure seekers at a Christian holiday camp for one week in August for those aged 8 to 11 years.
The fun filled week includes bible stories, action songs, food, cooking, crafts activities, games and outings. It is a safe place to explore more about God, meet new friends and try new things.
At St Matthews in St Leonard’s on sea the church will be running a mini superhero holiday club from Wednesday 28-Friday 30 August. This will be the first children’s holiday club the community has seen for twenty years.
This year in Midhurst, the Parish Church are offering weekly activities through the summer holidays for young people from Yr6 upwards including drop-ins, a movie night, and a scavenger hunt.
In Burgess Hill, church youth groups and partners have got together to host UNITED, a young people's summer event from 28th July.
United is where youth groups across the town come together for two days to learn, grow and have fun. The event is open to anyone aged 11-18 and is set in the beautiful school ground of Cumnor House Sussex.
The Chanctonbury group of churches are based in rural Sussex near Storrington. They are running their first ever children’s holiday club this summer.Children will be offered fun packed, thrilling adventures including a travelling through time programme with Potty Professors.
Nick Taylor is head of Kids Community at Chanctonbury churches. He explained the heart behind the club.:
“We wanted to offer another connection point between the church and our local community, hosting a space that we can get to know families and children and tell them about Jesus in an approachable and loving and relevant way. We see this as a springboard to journey with these families more in the next year or so as we invite them to engage with us more and more after this first contact. For those we already know from our school’s ministry, it is another chance to tell them about Jesus and to offer opportunities to make a commitment to Him. We also love that by hosting this during the working day during the school holidays, it is blessing the parents by giving them time to work. We have also kept the costs as low as possible to keep it affordable so that no-one misses out. Some of our church values are ‘people are precious’ and ‘heaven is here’ - we want to love people extravagantly like Jesus did, and reveal to them that heaven is indeed here and accessible to us all, whoever we are!
“We are so excited to be offering this programme and help families at what can be a long haul through the summer break.”
Parents and guardians have been fully behind the new holiday club idea. One parent said: "My 5 year old daughter has been given another opportunity to share “church“ with her classmates who are keen to join in with the activities. The timings of each day and low cost are such a blessing for us and local families who need help with childcare and we are so delighted that the church are able to offer this. We know the church teams as they are involved in assemblies at our local schools so we know that we can trust them in care of our children and to provide fun packed days."