29 July, 2022
School’s out for summer. If you have children, you’ll know it can be a challenge keeping them entertained. As the cost of living crisis begins to bite, a fifth of UK households now have negative disposable ‘income’. This means that for many families, paid summer activities for kids are no longer an option. In addition, the grandparents that many rely on for childcare may be out of the mix, as retired people are increasingly returning to the workplace due to economic need.
The government, in recognition of this, has launched a new initiative: Help for Households. One of the most striking aspects of this is that it directly asks companies to step up and offer families new deals – a pretty extraordinary recognition of the way responsibility for tackling social issues has spread to the corporate, as well as the social and political spectrums.
And the private sector is indeed stepping up. Many restaurant chains and shop cafes are offering free meals for children over the summer. Asda is offering £1 meals for children with no minimum adult spend. IKEA is also offering similar deals – for £1.50 children can get one hot meal, jelly, a soft drink and a piece of fruit. The hospitality sector is helping children get fed.
Other businesses are getting involved too. London theatres will let children see a West End show for free in August with a fee-paying adult, Vodafone is promoting a mobile social tariff of £10 a month and Amazon’s new ‘help for households’ page will provide access to free entertainment, learning resources and value groceries.
The non-profit and arts sectors are, unsurprisingly, offering low cost and free activities for families too – testament to their enduring creativity and reach. Several free festivals are happening over the summer, offering street performances, artwork and more, including Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Stockton international Riverside Festival and of course the Edinburgh Fringe.
It’s undeniable that many families will still struggle, but the pan-sectoral help is a welcome sign of the times we live in.
By Miriam Shovel