Minister for Children at Ashurst Outdoor centre Surrey

Surrey’s outdoor benefits for children


Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing and East Surrey MP Claire Coutinho visited High Ashurst Outdoor Education Centre on Monday 31 July.

High Ashurst is one of Surrey’s Outdoor Learning & Development centres and is home to one of the county’s ‘Club4’ camps. Funded by the Department for Education (DfE), Club4 is Surrey’s response to the Government’s national Holiday Activities & Food (HAF) programme which provides support for families whose children are on benefits related free school meals during the longer school holidays.

The Club4 programme covers six weeks of the summer holidays and offers a wide spread of camps in local communities, weighted to those areas of the county likely to see the highest demand. During the summer holidays alone, just under 40,000 places are being made available across 160 locations. The Club4 programme is run by Active Surrey on behalf of the council.

During her visit to High Ashurst, a regional champion for the South East in the national HAF 2023 awards, the Minister observed some of the activities taking place, talked to a number of the children and staff and took part in a woodland craft and skills session.

Claire Coutinho, Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing and MP for East Surrey said: “The Holiday Activities and Food Programme plays a really important role in filling that gap between terms and providing childcare and food provision over the holidays.

“It’s been really great to see everything that Surrey Outdoor Learning & Development is providing children with over the holidays and how they are teaching our children valuable skills while making sure they are having fun over the holidays.”

Clare Curran, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Education & Learning said: “We know that school holidays can be difficult times for families who struggle financially, so I’m pleased that we are able to provide free holiday activities and food club places for those who need them throughout the summer holidays.

“We’re delighted that the Minister has chosen to visit one of the 160+ HAF locations in Surrey. Places at camps like the one at High Ashurst help keep children safe, occupied and fed during the school holidays, and make a real difference to the happiness and health of families who wouldn’t otherwise have access to holiday activity camps.

“This offer is particularly invaluable during the ongoing cost of living crisis, which we know represents a huge challenge for families, and aligns with our guiding principle that no one in Surrey is left behind.”

Lil Duggan, Managing Director of Active Surrey, said: “More than 50% of children in Surrey are missing NHS guidelines to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. The nutritious meals and physical activities provided at Club4 camps are vital in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of young people who need it most.

“The camps can even improve school attendance for some children: keeping them engaged during the long break helps them build social skills and make new friends.”

The Club4 programme makes up part of the council’s offer to families in need this summer, with the council also having agreed to continue funding Free School Meals for eligible children during the school holiday. More information on that is available here

For more information on ‘Club4’ please visit:

For more information on the Government’s national Holiday Activities & Food Programme please visit: national Holiday Activities & Food programme

For more information on High Ashurst Outdoor Education Centre please visit:

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