Summer holiday food, activities and childcare programme: evaluation report - summer 2022

Evaluation report for the 2022 summer holiday food, activities and childcare programme (summer 2022). The research draws in-depth qualitative findings from a selected group of local authorities and some quantitative findings.

6. Perceived impacts for local authorities and partner organisations

Key points

  • Overall, there was a sense that cross-sector working had been a strength of the Summer Programme and is the result of relationship-building at the community level over time. There was also a perception that the funding had helped to enhance partnerships in the longer-term.
  • Having partnerships in place to offer summer provision in a targeted way that caters to a particular group was identified as a key benefit of partnership working.
  • Key benefits of the funding for those involved in the planning and delivery of programmes included: enhanced cross-sector working; the ability to deliver more ambitious or expanded programmes; or preventing some providers from operating at a financial loss or from having to reduce other services in order to run Summer Programme activities.
  • Negative impacts for providers included increased workloads and stress due to the short lead-in time for planning activities, as well as challenges completing the monitoring and evaluation templates.
  • Providers described ongoing learning about understanding the needs of low-income families from running their programmes. Enhanced cross-sector working was considered to be particularly important for this, as it was widely acknowledged that those working closest with CYP and their families all year round have the best understanding of their needs.

This chapter explores the perceived impacts of the Summer Programme funding on those involved in the planning and delivery, drawing primarily on interviews with local authority and partner organisations. Where aspects relating to planning, communication, targeting and reach have been covered elsewhere in the report, this chapter focuses on the delivery of the programmes and experiences of cross-sector working. It also considers the short-term outcomes of the Summer Programme funding for providers relating to the logic model, including:

  • robust cross-sector working
  • improved understanding of the needs of low-income families

The chapter begins with an overview of cross-sector working, what was felt to enhance this and what were the challenges. It then explores the perceived impact of the funding on partnerships and views on future cross-sector working. Finally, it considers the impact of the funding on the staff and organisations involved in planning and delivering the programme.

Cross-sector working - overview

Local authorities reported a wide range of partnerships involved in the delivery of the Summer Programmes, as summarised in Table 6.1. While delivery partner organisations sometimes described themselves as a partner of their local authority, they also mentioned a range of other organisations that they had worked with or services they had used to deliver summer provision.

Table 6.1: examples of cross-sector working

Partnerships mentioned by local authority representatives

  • Third sector organisations
  • Childcare businesses
  • Colleges
  • Sports organisations and clubs
  • Children's centres
  • Primary and secondary schools
  • Social services
  • Environmental groups
  • After-school clubs
  • Community interest groups
  • Youth groups
  • Churches

Partnerships mentioned by delivery partner organisations

  • Colleges
  • Sports organisations
  • Caterers
  • Schools and social services (for referrals)
  • Businesses in the leisure industry

Both existing and new partnerships were identified by local authority representatives and partner organisation representatives as being part of their delivery of the Summer Programme. Delivery partner organisations described how existing partnerships had been built over several years, developing into close working relationships. The main reasons given for working with existing partners were the levels of trust to deliver services to a high standard, but also the limited lead-in time limiting their ability to explore new partnerships.

"It is impossible with the timescales involved in this particular funding to develop [new] partnerships, you are reliant on existing partnerships that are in place that can be adapted around the extra resource. There would have been a lot more potentiality for partnership working with other organisations had we had the opportunity to plan around it with this funding in place."

(Partner organisation representative, local authority 6)

Where new partnerships were forged, these developed during the planning stages and happened in numerous ways, such as: through tapping into voluntary networks to encourage organisations who hadn't been involved previously to apply for funding; through word of mouth; through researching cost-saving alternatives; or as a response to the pandemic and the need to adapt summer programmes (such as by introducing more community-based and outdoor activities).

Experiences of cross-sector working

Overall, there was a sense that cross-sector working had been a strength of the Summer Programme and is the result of relationship-building at the community level over time.

Those who developed new partnerships attributed the success of these to the flexibility and willingness of partners to offer provision according to the funding requirements, and at speed.

"We were very grateful that they were so flexible in terms of just being able to say, 'yes, if they want to do sport, we will do whatever they want to do basically'."

(Partner organisation representative, local authority 1)

Having partnerships in place to offer summer provision in a targeted way that caters to a particular group (such as children with ASN or young carers) was identified as a key benefit of partnership working.

"We worked really closely with [a partner] throughout the year to build relationships with care experienced young people that are engaged with them, but also, they were another target group that were prioritising our trips for young people, and also supporting their families too."

(Local authority representative, local authority 3)

Outlining clear roles, responsibilities and timelines, as well as open communication, were also highlighted as success factors for effective cross-sector working, whether with new or established partners.

In addition to the aforementioned challenge of forming new partnerships within the short timescales of the funding, teething issues with new partners, particularly where there was a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities or poor communication, were also noted. Staffing pressures and budget constraints were also mentioned, which providers felt limited the options available to them.

"A good programme is one that is varied. Some children are there 10 hours per day. But we work on a shoestring budget so it's very hard to get partners in to do activities."

(Local authority representative, local authority 3)

Impact of funding on cross-sector working

The intended positive impacts of the Summer Programme funding on cross-sector working were broadly recognised by providers. There was also a perception that the funding had helped to enhance longer-term partnerships.

"It definitely impacted positively, it further built and strengthened relationships with a couple of organisations."

(Local authority representative, local authority 8)

Among local authorities in particular, there was evidence that the funding enabled them to expand their cross-sector working, either by involving new partners in the planning process or by linking up with organisations who are embedded in the communities and who have a deeper understanding of the needs of CYP and families in their local areas, or who are already supporting target groups.

"I think there are huge benefits to that. I think these partner organisations know so much more than we do because they are in the thick of it. [The funding] helps for longevity of partnership working, building those relationships is key because they know so much more than we do."

(Local authority representative, local authority 6)

While acknowledging the positive impact of the funding on cross-sector working, providers also highlighted that effective partnerships are the result of relationship-building over several years and not just for the summer holiday period.

There was a clear appetite among providers to continue and expand partnership working in the future. Particularly where new or existing partnerships had been developed successfully, local authority representatives and partner organisations were enthusiastic about the benefits of cross-sector working to deliver future programmes.

However, as noted above, the short lead-in time, combined in some cases with staffing and budget constraints, had acted as a barrier to expanding partnerships. Unless the funding model changes (discussed in more detail in Chapter 7) to one which gives greater security of funding and planning time, providers felt there would be limited opportunities to expand partnerships further.

Case study 6.1: the value of partnership working

A working group, formed of youth organisations, volunteer networks, as well as local authority staff across policy areas including out of school care, sports and outdoor learning, and lifelong learning, supported the planning of this local authority's summer programme.

Forty programmes were funded, encompassing a wide range of groups and activities, including early years and families, out of school care, arts, culture and heritage, sport and physical activity, outdoor learning, ASN, and children in need of protection. Many of these were existing partnerships but the involvement of the volunteer network in the planning facilitated expansion of the local authority's reach with new partner organisations.

It was clear to this local authority that trusting partners to deliver the right kind of programme for the families in their communities was fundamental to effective cross-sector working. Related to this, the flexibility around the criteria enabled partners to identify those who would benefit most, despite not being in the target groups stipulated by the funding.

"Having that degree of flexibility in there is also huge, because a lot of these organisations that are already working with the targeted groups know what might work, and it perhaps might not fit in with the criteria that is being given."

There is an appetite to further expand cross-sector working in the future, having seen the value of this approach this summer. The local authority would seek to develop new partnerships and offer support to those who could benefit from the funding but have not applied for it previously. The main challenge for the local authority was the lead-in time. This limited the extent of partnership working and is considered to be the main barrier for future expansion:

"It probably could be expanded and upscaled […] if we knew something was coming and we can build it into a larger programme. This was very much, right, what can we do in the timeframe and with the money that we have got to get going."

Other impacts for providers


In addition to enhanced cross-sector working, local authority and partner organisation representatives identified several other ways in which the funding had positively impacted on their experiences delivering summer programmes. These have been discussed in greater detail in chapters 2 and 3 but, in summary, included:

  • empowering providers to offer more ambitious programmes and expand their capacity and reach, giving staff a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment;
  • preventing some providers from operating at a financial loss or from having to reduce other services in order to run the Summer Programme.

"People are just really, really, engaged and excited about summer, you can't wait to put on a programme that [is] aspirational […] in the past we put on holiday programmes and they are great, we do the best we can with what we have got, arts and crafts, cooking, baking, we go walking, but these are really, really, exciting trips and really, exciting experiences, and we can see the difference that has to people life. I think that has probably been the biggest impact, certainly for me and my team. People are really proud to be doing really, really, good work.

(Local authority representative, local authority 3)

Difficulties experienced

The challenges of delivering the Summer Programme with a short lead-in time are described in Chapter 2. Providers described the negative impact this had on them personally. Words like "frantic" and "stressful" were used to describe the impact of the funding timescales on staff.

"To find out so late it is not great for the team when they are trying to plan. It is not good for my stress levels because you really want to know that you've got that money and you can tell the team that they can go ahead and confirm things."

(Partner organisation representative, local authority 1)

Staff described feeling "drained" and "burnt out" as a result of the time and effort that went into planning and delivering programmes over the summer, particularly if they had been busy with other duties during the run up to the end of the school term. Examples were given of staff having to work additional hours to allow provision over the summer or having to cancel or delay holiday plans until after the summer holidays as a result of working during the summer. As highlighted by a local authority representative, this had the knock-on effect of limiting provision at other times after the summer:

"We weren't really in a position to do much over the October holidays, because we'd called upon so many of our own staff over the summer that they were then having to take their annual leave in October."

(Local authority representative, local authority 1)

Local authority representatives cited the monitoring and evaluation requirements as a further challenge of the Summer Programme funding. It was felt that, although there had been some input from local authorities in its design, the format of the final monitoring spreadsheet was overly complex and not intuitive for those not used to working with this kind of template, which added to workload issues.

Overall, local authority representatives broadly agreed that teams and coordinators did not have the time they needed to effectively manage the Summer Programme funding, particularly if reliant on existing staff taking this on in addition to their core responsibilities. There was a view that to achieve sustainable coordination of the Summer Programme and other similar funding within local authorities, it needs to be a dedicated year-round role rather than a seasonal one.

Understanding the needs of low-income families

Providers identified a range of ways in which they gained an enhanced understanding about catering to the needs of low-income families through planning and delivering the Summer Programme. Much of this was considered to be part of continual learning that providers gain, not just in the summer, but from the ongoing relationship that they build with families in their communities over time. The specific learning is covered in detail in Chapter 7.



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