A UNIQUE project encouraging families to stay healthy has received a £105,000 boost.

Since 2017, Firstsite in Colchester has held a school holiday club prioritising children who receive free school meals.

For five days a week during the holidays families can drop in to the gallery and take part in creative and physical activities, followed by a hot meal.

Around 50 meals are served each day and in the past two years the project has provided meals to more than 250 families in Colchester.

Now the project can be extended as a pilot programme into Tendring, in particular Harwich, thanks to extra funding.

Tendring Council has allocated £5,411 for the project, Arts Council England has given £14,589, Awards for All has given £10,000 and the NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has put forward £75,000.

Firstsite Director Sally Shaw said: “We very much hope this is just the start of something much bigger. We are seeking funding to build on this pilot programme and increase our offer over the coming years.

“2021 marks Firstsite’s 10th anniversary and at that point we are hoping to announce a new vision for the gallery inspired by the outcomes from Holiday Fun.”

This funding boost means the introduction of term time sessions in Colchester and Harwich for parents who would benefit from creative activities designed to improve wellbeing and employability.

Nick Hulme, chief executive at the East Suffolk and North East NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This incredibly inspiring and innovative programme is the first of its kind in its area. This reduces the risk of long term health issues and ultimately helps our community live well together.”

Ewan Green, corporate director for regeneration and planning at Tendring Council, added: “Firstsite’s Holiday Fun has had great results already and I am really pleased to see it coming to Harwich. It is a great display of how our developing arts projects can make a difference in Tendring.”