HAF - Important info & other help available? FAQs:

Is my son/daughter eligible?  The HAF programme is primarily for children/young people aged 4-16 years (school age), who are eligible for and receiving benefits-related free school meals (FSM), and their families.  As such some sessions are just for children and young people on free school meals, but many more are open to all young people (most council sessions, skate parks and community cookouts).  Look out for all the details in the listings tabs for your area.

Please note that not all activity providers will be able to accommodate the full age range of the programme. Please check with the provider listings what age group is appropriate to their activity.

How do we access the programme?  To access the programme, simply book a place through one of the providers we list. Please note that booking details differ depending on each provider, for some there is no need to book, and these are noted in the listings.

Who's involved?  We are working with Council teams, local schools, voluntary and community organisations as well as childcare providers and sports camps to deliver the HAF programme locally.

Do you have provision for children/young people with SEND?  Yes, we have some provision for children with SEND. Many activities will be inclusive and able to support children with SEND - look out for the 'SEND' listings on the timetable.  The Bolton SEND Local Offer provides a single point for information to help families access details about services available to them, and offer guidance in multiple areas, such as early years places, schools (including academies and free schools), colleges, health and care & leisure activities. The Local Offer also includes guidance for parents when they need to speak with practitioners and professionals and information on giving feedback, raising concerns and making complaints.  https://www.bolton.gov.uk/sendlocaloffer/

Does my son/daughter need to bring anything?  Just themselves, a smile (hopefully!), and appropriate clothing for the activity.  If the activity is outdoors, please remember to bring a waterproof coat. If for some reason your activity is cancelled due to wet weather, the activity provider will endeavour to contact you at the earliest opportunity to let you know.

Will food be provided?  Yes food will be provided each day of the activity.  If your son/daughter has a food allergy or a special dietary requirement, or if you have a question about the food offer, please can you speak to the activity provider as the food offer may differ?  Contact details for the activity providers are on these webpages.

Is transport provided?  In most case we would encourage you to make your own way to the activity.

Why are the activities only in some locations?  We invited applications from activity providers across the borough who were able to meet the strict HAF criteria and limited budget. However, as you know, we live in a very diverse borough, which means there will be limitations as to where the programme can operate, so unfortunately, there may not be a scheme in every area.  However many sessions are open to all and there are some boroughwide sessions, park events, skate park session etc., where all children and young people are welcome, and there will be more as the programme develops.

Support during February, May and October half term holidays?  The HAF programme is not funded to provide holiday clubs over the half term holidays but other activities and support may be available to families. You can visit https://www.mylifeinbolton.org.uk/ to find out what is available in your area. Please note that these are not HAF funded programmes so we cannot guarantee availability.  Many of our partners and Council sessions are offered 'year-round' in some format!

Families who are eligible for Universal Credit may be able to claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs. You can find information about help with childcare costs on the GOV.UK website.

I have received a letter with a unique reference number how do I book my child on a session?  Use your phone camera on the QR code or enter the web address on your phone (www.bolton.gov.uk/HAF) on the opening page click a postcode your interested in and check out what’s on.  Information on how to book is listed against each provider.  You can book direct quoting your unique reference number.

I haven’t received a letter with a unique reference but my child(ren) are on free school meals - The letter was sent via Bolton Council’s benefits team to all those in receipt of benefits related free school meals.  If you didn’t receive a letter is likely you were ineligible on this occasion.  If you still feel you should have received a letter then please email positive.activities@bolton.gov.uk and we will point you in the right direction.  Please note, we don't have access to your code ourselves, as its personal to your family alone!

My child(ren) are not in receipt of benefits related free school meals can they still attend any activities?  Yes! Although the funding from the Department of Education (DfE) is targeted at those on free school meals there are still activities that everyone can access!  Bolton Council along with a few other providers have activities across the borough whereby you don’t need to book you can just turn up!  Look out for the “available to all young people…” prompts on the HAF microsite (www.bolton.gov.uk/HAF).  In addition we are running SKATE PARKS and FREE FAMILY EVENTS for five weeks over (Easter &) Summer in Bolton’s big parks.  Again check out the microsite for more info!   Some providers may charge for additonal sessions outside the HAF programme and we have no control over this.

SUMMER ONLY - My child(ren) are not in receipt of benefits related free school meals can we still access food over summer?  Yes! Our partners over at Urban Outreach are running their BL Lunches programme whereby families who need one, can access a free lunch at over 30 pick up points across Bolton.  Click BL LUNCHES to find out where and what additional support is available.

My child is 4 but doesn’t start school until September, can they still attend? Unfortunately the funding is specifically for children aged 4-16 that are already in school and in receipt of benefits related free school meals.  Its worth noting that the HAF programme also runs at Christmas and Easter making them eligible later in the year.  For information about early years services check out www.boltonstartwell.org.uk

My child has additional needs can they still attend and do they automatically qualify for a HAF place?  As specified by the DfE the priority for the HAF programme is for children in receipt of benefits related free school meals.  As part of our universal offer we do have some specific provision for children with SEND and ask that all providers are as inclusive as possible when taking bookings.  You can liaise with providers direct to assess if that particular provision is suitable for your childs needs.  Alternatively you can also explore Bolton’s wider offer by clicking SEND LOCAL OFFER.

Any other HAF questions?  For bookings and sessions queries, please contact the provider via. their details on the listings page.  For any other (non-urgent) HAF queries please email: positive.activities@bolton.gov.uk

Other sources of help?


Support if you or if your child is disabled

Help for Families

  • Childcare Choices - Government help with childcare costs for parents.  Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support.  
  • Bolton Families Information Service offers free information on early education and services for children, young people and families in Bolton (including help with childcare costs). 
  • Find out more about our Start Well Services for Families
  • Apply for support with maternity costs with the Maternity Grant (Sure Start) 
  • Be Kind To My Mind is a Bolton campaign to reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental health. 
  • Want to know how to explore Bolton’s fantastic green spaces, along with the benefits of an active lifestyle and being in nature?  To make it easier, a new section on our website brings together loads of useful information on parks, skateparks and places to go walking and cycling.   Find out more at: www.bolton.gov.uk/activebolton