WITH recent statistics showing 1 in 5 pupils in Wales are eligible for free school meals, Urdd Gobaith Cymru is playing its part by ensuring every child and young person, whatever their social background, can take part in the organisation’s activities.

Ahead of World Children’s Day, the Urdd has declared a commitment to supporting children and young people from low-income households by offering a year’s membership for £1, instead of £10.

The organisation’s Chief Executive say they are continually looking for innovative ways to ensure that every child in Wales, whatever their background, can take advantage of the opportunities available to them through the Urdd.

The ‘Fund for All – Urdd Summer Camp Fund’ has already enabled hundreds of children and young people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to have a holiday, to enjoy Summer Camps at Glan-llyn, Llangrannog and Cardiff residential centres. This fund will reopen for applications by parents and schools on behalf of children in January 2022.

“The statistics showed that child poverty in Wales was rising before the pandemic, but the pandemic has had a significant impact on the wellbeing and physical activity of children, especially those from low-income families,” explains Siân Lewis, Chief Executive of Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

“As a national youth organisation, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to ensure that a family’s financial circumstance does not need to mean a child losing out on opportunities. Offering support to others is at the heart of our work, and we are determined to do all we can to ease the impact of the pandemic on our youth as well as their families.”

Urdd announces fund for all

The announcement has been welcomed by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales as well as schools across the country.

“The Urdd offers many thousands of children and young people in Wales the opportunity to take up their rights to socialise, to relax and play and to develop their talents and interests,” said Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

“The Urdd’s commitment to support children of all backgrounds to have an equal chance to take up their rights shines throughout their work. Over recent years this has included bespoke programmes for children in touch with social services and ground-breaking support for refugee families. This offer builds on these foundations by ensuring that the Urdd’s activities are affordable and accessible, regardless of family income.”

Iwan Ellis, Head of Ysgol Bro Eirwg, Cardiff said: “As a school where nearly 30% of our pupils receive free school meals – and that number continues to rise – this new membership offer by the Urdd has been welcomed by staff and parents alike. Covid has clearly affected everyone financially, but this offer will enable more parents to ensure their children can join the Urdd.”