A £30,000 fund for summer fun in Oxford is on offer for kids from deprived or vulnerable backgrounds.

The fund for summer holiday activities will be aimed at young people most affected by the pandemic and the lack of school and education opportunities this year.

Oxford City Council, which has given out the cash to different groups in the city, pays for summer activities every year, particularly those who face disadvantage.

But this year the grants are ‘predominantly for young people who have been referred for support’ after having spent months living in lockdown, unable to see friends or family outside their own households.

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Funding grants were due to be announced at the end of March, but lockdown has meant a complete redesign of summer holiday activities to make sure they fit with public health guidelines.

Marie Tidball, the city council’s cabinet member for supporting local communities, said: “We know that around four per cent of 13-17 year olds in the county are at risk of ‘falling through the gaps’, and with school education so disrupted this year the attainment gap between these young people and those doing well has widened dramatically.

“While we can’t deliver summer holiday activities on the scale we usually do, it’s vital that we do what we can to support these young people.

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Ms Tidball added: “In the face of huge funding shortfalls many councils have had to cancel spending on summer activities, but in Oxford we’ve worked hard with partners to make sure we can still provide some support.

“I hope that next year, when we come to plan our summer activities, all young people will have had the investment and support from the Government they need to redress the attainment gap that has worsened under lockdown.”

The council has said its change of focus for the summer activities is to make sure the support reaches those ‘most in need and to help to close the academic attainment gap for young people who experience more barriers to education’.

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The grant funding will support youth work in Blackbird Leys, Greater Leys, Cutteslowe, East Oxford, Cowley, Leys CDI, Northway and Rose Hill.

Barton Community Association was also given funding earlier this year for youth activities. It is using this to run a summer school for those who have missed out most on regular schooling, as well as a play scheme for young people.

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On July 7, the Children’s Commissioner published ‘Teenagers Falling Through the Gaps’, a report which emphasised the importance of summer schemes for young people who were already facing challenges at home or in school before the crisis.

The data for this publication shows that around four per cent of young people in Oxfordshire face multiple challenges that put them in this category.

Some of the groups who are particularly in need of support include young carers, young people with disabilities, young people involved in the criminal justice system, young people who are homeless, and those facing domestic abuse, or physical and mental wellbeing issues.