With the school holidays here and kids now at home for the next few weeks, it’s understandable many families may be concerned about filling the time – and the costs associated with that.

However, there are so many things you can plan for almost no cost at all.

Our partners at PayPlan – one of the UK’s largest free debt advice providers – have shared a few suggestions below to help you save money and get some additional help over the summer holidays:

Holiday activities and food programme

These free holiday clubs are run by your local council are designed to provide “healthy food and enriching activities to children and young people”. Councils are working with a wide range of organisations to give children free spots on this scheme. This can vary from a range of activities such as dance camp, sports clubs, play groups and much more.

Local authorities may also run their own programme. We recommend getting in touch with your local council to see what holiday scheme you can register for.

Any child who is eligible for free school meals will be offered a place on the holiday activities and food programme.

Each year you need to re-register to access the programme, if you are eligible for free school meals you should receive information about how to apply for the scheme from your local council.

Your child will be allocated a code to confirm your eligibility and allows you to book a place.

Where children can eat for free or for £1 over summer

Going out for a meal can be a lovely family treat, however the prices soon add up. Budgets can be tight so we have included a few restaurants where parents, grandparents and carers can feed their children for free. (Please check T&C’s before going).

  • Bills – Up to two kids can eat free all day from Monday 24 July – Friday 1 September (excluding Saturday and Sunday), if one adult orders any main dish (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The children’s menu features family favourites including buttermilk pancakes, mac & cheese and fish fingers & chips.
  • Morrisons – Under-16s can eat for free at any of Morrisons’ 398 cafes across the UK when an adult spends £4.49 or more on a meal. Until 13 August, any adults or children who ‘Ask for Ellen’ can receive two toasted crumpets, with butter and jam, for free too.
  • TGI Friday’s – Join the TGI Friday’s Stripes rewards programme and feed one child for free when you order an adult’s main meal. Youngsters can order a main and two sides from the “Little League” or “Major League” section of the kids’ menu.
  • Sizzling Pubs – For every adult meal purchased, you can have a kid’s main for just £1. The offer is available Monday to Friday between 3-7pm.
  • Bella Italia – Children can eat for £1 with every purchase of an adult main course from 4-6pm on Monday to Thursday. Kids can have three courses of Italian food, such as pizza and pasta, with meals suitable for two to 11-year-olds.
  • OK Diners – Children under-10 can eat for free from the children’s menu when an adult purchases a main course from the a la carte menu. Available all day and week-long.

Free and cheaper days out

Depending on the county you live in, there are many free days out advertised for the holidays. We found a wonderful article on Money Magpie listing all the activities by area – check it out here. We love a freebie and there’s plenty of fun things to do for all ages here.

Have you visited a toy library before? With over 1000 across the UK there is sure to be one near you. Contact your local council to find your closest. At each venue they offer toys to borrow for all ages and many run “stay and play” sessions.

Get your creative juices flowing and create a nature trail. Grab a map and plot a walk in your local area, see if your children can then identify flowers and leaves along the way. You can then draw what you spot or even have a go at flower pressing by placing them between two heavy objects and letting them dry out.

Visit a free museum – many museums are offering free exhibitions over the holidays. MoneySavingExpert has a full list of free museums in the UK.

If you’re struggling with debts, remember PayPlan’s there to help. Call on 0800 072 1206, they’re open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 3pm on Saturdays.

Alternatively, you can visit www.payplan.com/the-fire-fighters-charity to speak to them via live chat or for more information.

Explore our wellbeing hub

We have a number of online health and wellbeing courses available, exclusively for members of the UK fire services community. These five and six-week courses can be taken completely at your own pace, to fit round work and home commitments, and cover a range of different health and wellbeing topics in-depth – with the aim of providing techniques and tools to help you move forward positively.

From a course on gambling addiction, to another on stress at work and ones on either social or general anxiety, there are a number of topics that could prove beneficial for you.

Available through our new Wellbeing Hub in My Fire Fighters Charity, there are also five-minute Bitesize sessions and 10-15 minute Find Out More sessions available on everything from stress and anxiety to low mood, menopause, resilience and debt management.


More Stories