As schools prepare to break up for the long summer holidays, the council is launching a variety of different measures to support families with children at home until September.
Free activity ideas and low-cost days out will help keep little ones entertained, discounted travel and eating out offers can help save money and to help prepare for back to school, and parents can apply for a school uniform reimbursement up until September.
The uniform reimbursement grant provides help towards the cost of essential clothing for school use, such as PE kits, shoes and coats purchased between 1 June and 15 September 2023. It does not cover stationery, bags, lunch boxes, or other non-clothing items.
You can apply if you live in South Gloucestershire, are struggling to pay bills or meet your monthly outgoings and have no other means of support. To apply, you will need to visit your nearest One Stop Shop in Kingswood, Patchway or Yate or call 01454 868009. You will be asked to fill in a financial statement of your income and expenditure for the household and provide receipts showing the purchase of school uniform and proof of the bank statement showing the transactions. Help with essential school clothing costs all year round is also available for eligible households.
There are also plenty of free and fun places across South Gloucestershire for families to visit during the holidays – including the council-owned Grimsbury Community Farm in Kingswood. The farm has lots of animals to meet including sheep, goats, rabbits and pigs. It also has a picnic area, café and playground. Parking is free and animal feed can be purchased for £1.
Another free day out is the Willsbridge Mill nature reserve, which is home to many types of wildlife, including badgers and Roe deer. The Mill has a wildlife garden and a fairy wood to explore, as well as a café.
The council has lots of tips and ideas on low-cost activities and things to do at home as well, such as making nutritious ice lollies with the lolly moulds in our free family cool packs which are available to collect from children centres, libraries and One Stop Shops.
Free activities running all summer include the summer reading challenge, which for 2023 is called Ready, Set, Read! Pick up a free bag of goodies including seeds from any South Gloucestershire library and all children aged 4 to 11 are encouraged to read books they enjoy over the summer holiday and collect stickers to complete their exclusive Ready, Set, Read! collector card and get a medal and certificate.
Libraries also have lots of free activities this summer including ZooLab animal workshops, Ready, Set, Read! themed crafts and Lego™ clubs.
South Gloucestershire is also home to several unicorns this summer as part of an art trail across Bristol. Check locations and find out more at www.theunicornfest.co.uk For free bus travel during your birthday month visit www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/transport/bus/birthdaybus. The £2 cap on bus fares has been also extended nationally until October 2023.
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet member for Cost of Living, Equalities and Public Health, Councillor Alison Evans, said: “There is so much to enjoy for free or at low cost in South Gloucestershire this summer and we hope families take up some of these offers and have a fun summer exploring our beautiful area and trying new activities.
“We know the cost of living is making things difficult for families and we are doing everything we can to help and give children in particular a summer of fun after the last few years of lockdowns and rising prices.”
Council teams will also be out and about in shopping centres this summer offering advice and support to parents. Keep an eye out for dates and locations on social media and in the weekly resident update.
For further information, advice and financial support to help with the cost of living visit www.southglos.gov.uk/costofliving