PARENTS are concerned about the wellbeing and safety of their children at summer holidays hubs in Oxfordshire.

The holiday hubs, organised by Cherwell District Council, are held annually in Oxford, Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington.

They aim to offer a health mix of sports, art, craft, and games to keep children aged five to 11 years old “happy” during school holidays.

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However, several parents have safeguarding concerns about the holiday hubs which seem to have “worsened” over the summer.

One parent, who has chosen to stay anonymous, said they have witnessed numerous issues over the holidays.

Some examples were passwords not being asked for when children were picked up, staff calling children “stupid or idiots”, staff “throwing balls at small children making them cry and laughing it off, and upset children having their concerns “minimised or dismissed.”

Other issues mentioned were one children “escaping” the hub and staff “losing their temper” or “shouting aggressively” at children.

The parent said: “The problems seem to be getting worse. I don’t know if the council are dealing with the problems but I know that my children don’t feel safe.

“The safeguarding concerns have been raised by my children and some I have seen myself or other parents have raised the issues with me.

“It was so bad I had to take my children out one day and bring them to work with me. It’s causing serious problems.”

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The parent addressed their concerns with the council which said training days were provided to staff beforehand and that staff may face disciplinary action.

“The staff leading these sessions are young and clearly inexperienced,” said the parent.

“At this time, I am unsure whether I can continue to work and may have to quit my job if I am unable to ensure my children's safety within the Cherwell Holiday Hubs.

“We are sad and appalled at the way these vulnerable and youngest members of our community have been treated and are glad that parents we do not know were keen to share information with us in order to keep all of our children safe.”

A spokesperson for Cherwell District Council said: “Our holiday hubs have been running across the district for many years and are a trusted fixture in the diaries of hundreds of local families, who send their children back year on year to enjoy fun and friendly activities.

“During this summer holiday we have 6,000 places filled and we were sorry to hear that this parent, who we have already responded to privately, is not satisfied.

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“We take the allegations made very seriously, and are looking at each of them thoroughly, and we have arranged to meet with [the parent] to discuss them.

“The hubs are sports camps, and they are an optional activity for children during the school holidays. It is a matter for parents to decide whether or not their children attend.

“The council is proud of its offer and the safe and inclusive environment the hubs provide.

“All the staff delivering the sessions are fully trained and must pass DBS checks before the hubs begin.

“The staff are supervised throughout their working day and receive additional spot checks from a senior manager.

“They additionally have a direct line to senior managers at the council office to report any problems or concerns that occur.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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