A PACKED programme of free summer activities has been lined up for families who receive benefit-related free school meals.

Volunteers are now needed to ensure the Summer in Dorset programme can be delivered successfully throughout the holidays.

Dorset Council has worked with community groups and activity providers to offer the programme. More than 50 locations are offering 18,000 places and thousands of families who receive free school meals have already signed up.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Dorset Council portfolio holder for children, education and early help, said: "We understand that finding the right activities and childcare in the holidays is vital.

"All sessions and included meals are free for children aged five to 16 who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals. However, some of the sessions are available for all families, some are free for everyone and others are fee-based. Our wider aim is that the programme will also grow affordable holiday provision in Dorset, which in future will benefit all children and young people.

"Please come and join us and help make a difference to the children of Dorset. If you can kick a football or make a bucketful of squash we want to hear from you.

"Summer in Dorset is important, as it will make a real difference to children who need it most, so please get in touch. I would urge all families who receive free school meals to sign-up for some of the fantastic activities on offer like team sports, outdoor adventures, den making, music video creation and much more."

Summer in Dorset offers six weeks of enriching activities, fun-days and holiday clubs for children aged five to 16. All sessions and included meals will be free for children who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals. This scheme is possible thanks to funding from the Department of Education’s Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) Programme.

Dozens of locations across Dorset are offering a mixture of indoor activities for youngsters throughout the summer.

For more information and to sign up for Summer in Dorset activities, visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/summer-in-dorset