Get access to council activities, services and other freebies
Published 24 October 2016 by Linzi Nuttall
Make use of your free council services this half-term and save some cash.
With half-term almost here, October is a long and expensive month. There are Halloween decorations and costumes to fork out for, and Bonfire Night is just a few weeks away too. And on top of this, October is a five weekend month, which means budgeting will be tight.
That’s why it’s really important to tighten your belt by bagging some freebies or great offers from your local council to keep the family occupied. Remember, this is the last break until Christmas so try to make the best of that family time together!
Splash water, not the cash
Swimming is a great way to have fun with all the family and get fit too. Following Team GB’s amazing success in the pool at this year Olympic Games in Rio, your kids could be inspired to take up a new hobby.
And it’s not just younger people who can benefit – over 60s can get free swimming in some areas around the country, so check your local pool to get more details. In Manchester and Wolverhampton, for example, over 60s get free swimming, while kids under 17 are allowed free swims at pools during the holidays.
In Wales, there’s a new Government scheme that gives those serving in the armed forces and veterans free swims.
Go outdoors plant a tree
Some councils give away plants and trees each year to plant yourself. Check out Colchester, Gloucester and West Lancashire councils for their giveaways. And in Bristol, the One Tree per Child campaign aims to give one tree for every child to plant themselves. That’s a whopping 36,000 trees over 130 primary schools.
If you love nature and the outdoors, the Woodland Trust have a goal to plant a tree for every citizen in Britain, so a staggering 64 million trees. The Government missed its planting targets by 86% last year while our woodland cover is some of the least in Europe. To combat this, the Woodland Trust is offering free autumn discovery packs with ideas for the top 10 best autumn walks, activity packs and handy ID guides.
Head to the village hall
Local community centres and village centres are great places to see which classes and activities are running for free in your area. Libraries are fantastic places for kids who love to read to spend endless hours. Cities like Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester have opened their doors to new or refurbished libraries recently. They aren’t just places for browsing books, but are vast community and visitor attractions in their own right.
Try out the children’s libraries, loan music, DVDs, use computer suites, see art and explore temporary exhibitions. Find courses and activities such as sewing, arts, crafts and more that are run for free for a whole range of fun activities.
On yer bike!
If you love cycling, or want to know how to repair the kid’s bikes, some councils in England are offering basic and intermediate repair courses. Many schools are also running bikeability workshops – these are designed to give you more confidence and better technique while out on the road. Check with your council to see if you can get some free wheels too.
Don’t forget free childcare, clothing and dinners
Three and four-year-olds in England can get 15 hours of childcare for 38 weeks of the year. This includes all types of nurseries, nursery classes, playgroups, pre-school, childminders and Sure Start children’s centres. Two-year-olds are eligible to receive free early education and childcare.
Lastly, don’t miss out on free school meals in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These are available if you receive certain benefits such as Universal Credit or Income Support. There are also clothing grants available nationwide, but check the criteria for these with your local council.