New Booking Capabilities for Holiday Activities and Food Programme

In November 2020, the Department for Education announced the expansion of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) across the whole of England throughout the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays in 2021. The programme aims to decrease the holiday experience gap for children from disadvantaged families who are less likely to have access to organised out-of-school activities and are more likely to experience social isolation. The Playwaze platform offers providers of the programme a fit-for-purpose solution in effectively delivering HAF in their local area. A total of 120+ authorities across the country have been granted funding by the Department for Education to deliver HAF.

In February 2021 Playwaze proudly collaborated with the Hertfordshire Sports Partnership to deliver the HAF programme on behalf of the Hertfordshire County Council in the Hertfordshire region. The county council joined forces with Herts Sports Partnership, the county’s dedicated Active Partnership, along with Hertfordshire Community Foundation to deliver the program locally.

Herts Sports Partnership wanted to make sure every parent with a young person eligible for free school meals could easily find and book a holiday activity for their child. Playwaze as a provider of search and book technology was approached by the Hertfordshire Sports Partnership to bring the programme to life digitally and deliver a search and book solution for the Easter holidays and beyond.

The project was divided into two phases with the first focussing on creating a search and book solution for holiday activities which would be road tested over the Easter holiday. The second phase focussed on the review and feedback from providers and participants in phase 1, to further enhance the solution and ensure it could be used to take all bookings (both free and paid) for the summer and Christmas holidays later in 2021.

The solution was built to provide each organisation with a birds-eye view of the reach and impact of their funding locally, as well as provide a one-stop shop holiday activities search tool for schools, parents and young people. In addition, it also used OpenActive-compliant technology, an innovative Sport England-funded programme that aims to make sport and activity as easily accessible as a hotel room or taxi for participants and consumers.

The MVP solution was completed in time for the Easter launch and this collaboration saw more than 25 providers manage 55 multi-day holiday activities for which there were over 3,100 bookings and 18,000 unique searches were generated via the holiday activity finder. 

Shelley Woods, Project and Marketing Officer at Herts Sports Partnership, said:

“Herts Sports Partnership (HSP) were presented with the option of working with Playwaze following their work with other Active Partnerships and the creation of a Virtual School Games solution. Playwaze delivered a webinar to the HSP Team and following subsequent conversations around tight timescales and operational assurances from Playwaze, the partnership began. 

Playwaze recognised the timescales HSP were working to and understand the landscape of Active Partnerships. Their ability to be agile with respect to issues that we experienced meant that we could communicate progress with partners in a language that everyone understood. The [solution] Playwaze supplied the project with is relatively intuitive to use – a significant plus is that the data is collated effectively, making monitoring and evaluation simpler.”

Playwaze is now collaborating with Active Cornwall and Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership, the dedicated Active Partnerships for their respective regions, to support them in bringing their Holiday Activity and Food programmes to life for summer and Christmas 2021. This builds on the successes and learnings from the collaboration across Hertfordshire and will see several Active Partnerships benefit from shared backing and pooled investment working with a single digital partner for their provider’s delivery of a nationally funded programme.

How Can Playwaze Help You?

Whether you are a commissioned partner responsible for delivery of a HAF program, or a national, regional, or local provider of holiday activities, Playwaze is able to provide you with a holiday activity search tool using our unique Finder builder technology. Activity Finders that are #PoweredByPlaywaze make it simple for your participants – and their parents – to find what they are looking for with easy-to-use search filters. Finders can be customised with your organisation’s branding and embedded into your existing website, or a fully hosted website can be provided, either way making the booking process straightforward.

We have increased the capabilities of our Activities feature so that providers can use it to schedule their holiday activities and camps. We have also refreshed our booking process so that parents and participants can multi-select dates and complete your customised booking forms. In addition to this our systems’ functionality also supports organisation’s ability to collect data specific to your programme and activity bookings.

As is standard with the Activities feature, taking online payments, managing capacity, and tracking attendance have all been extended into the solution for holiday activities and camps. This also allows for the use of booking ‘add-ons’ should the provider need to include additional equipment or meal payments for non-free school meal eligible families as part of their booking.

Playwaze recognised the timescales HSP were working to and understand the landscape of Active Partnerships. Their ability to be agile with respect to issues that we experienced meant that we could communicate progress with partners in a language that everyone understood.

Shelley Woods – Project and Marketing Officer, Herts Sports Partnership

Click here to find out more about how Playwaze can help your HAF programme