Skip navigation

Our Partners

The Healthy Living Lab works with a wide range of organisations including government departments, local authorities, schools, charities and businesses, bridging the gap between scientific research findings, policy and practice.

The Lab specialises in co-designing research projects with stakeholders and user groups, especially young children, and uses a variety of methods to capture the voice of children. Our research has led to a national shift in school breakfast programmes and has been instrumental in shaping the government's thinking and the Department for Education's decision to expand the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme across England.

Holiday programmes work best when they provide consistent, easily accessible activities. We have supported, and continue to work with, international, national and regional organisations to review and evaluate their provision to shape improvements, share best practice and ensure it reflects the latest thinking, learning and developments within the field. 

Below is some details of, and feedback from, some of our successful partnerships. You can also read further details of these, and more, in our brochure.


Feeding Britain: Food and Fun programme

When Feeding Britain was established, food banks reported a rapid increase in need for emergency support among families with children during school holidays.

Feeding Britain secured funding to enable community centres across their network to provide free school meals and activities for children and families during school holidays. Since its launch in 2015, more than 40,000 children have accessed the programme and more than 1.2 million meals have been administered.

Andrew Forsey, Director of Feeding Britain said: "The Healthy Living Lab has provided a constant source of knowledge around good practice and maintaining high standards, as well as the development, coverage, impact and outcomes of holiday programmes across the country. The Lab has been particularly helpful in shaping our policy work, with ministers and officials, towards achieving a national programme with government support."


StreetGames HAF programme

StreetGames: Fit and Fed programme

StreetGames uses the power of sport to help make young people safer, healthier and more successful. Through their work delivering multi-sport activities in disadvantaged communities through trusted community organisations, it was becoming increasingly clear that many of the children and young people taking part - especially during school holidays - were arriving hungry and lacking in energy.

This was the inspiration for Fit and Fed, a new way of delivering sport and physical activity which would include the provision of food, as well as tackling the other challenges faced by disadvantaged young people during school holidays, such as social isolation and a lack of things to do. During its first year of operation, 15,500 young people were supported across 251 sites and 90,000 meals were served to young people in need.

Jane Ashworth, Founder of StreetGames said: "The support and insight that the Healthy Living Lab have provided during the development and delivery of our Fit and Fed programme has been invaluable. Through collaboration and data sharing, this partnership has allowed us to better identify the fundamentals of a successful holiday programme and apply these lessons to maximise our research and impact."


Kitchen Social: a Mayor’s Fund for London programme

Kitchen Social is the largest provider of holiday provision in London and hubs have been in place since 2017. Kitchen Social provides funding for community organisations across all school holidays, it is fully inclusive and has a wider eligibility criterion than free school meals. 

Kitchen Social has a vital role to play in addressing the growing and serious issue of children and young people who face food insecurity and social isolation. The programme is committed to working with Local Authorities and partners across London to make sure no young person suffers from a poor diet, hunger, social isolation, or inactivity outside of school time. 

In 2023, it is estimated that over 600,000 children aged 16 or under were living in food insecure households. The cost-of-living crisis has widened this gap and this figure is on the rise. Kitchen Social hubs are evolving from a focus on food insecurity to a focus on creating an ecosystem for young people to grow and thrive supporting them with food, mental wellbeing, life skills, physical activity and building community cohesion. 

Jade Harris, Head of Programmes and Campaigns at Mayors Fund for London said: “Working with Northumbria University to evaluate the impact of Kitchen Social over the past few years has been instrumental to the growth and evolution of the programme. The latest research has highlighted new areas where we want to evolve to engage more teenagers, we will be using the findings to ensure that the programme remains successful and that we continue to be led by the real experts the young people themselves.”


Gateshead Council HAF programme

Gateshead Council: Brighten the Day programme

In 2020, Gateshead Council worked with its network of partners and community volunteers to ensure that children and families in the area could continue to enjoy holiday fin and food during the summer break. The challenges associated with Covid-19 led to changes to its existing programme, with greater numbers of children benefiting and a broader range of community partners becoming involved.

Approximately 8,500 children attended more than 40 projects offered during the holiday period. The council delivered 5,775 packed lunches and has recorded 1,650 breakfasts and 3,100 meals provided to children during the programme.

Ian Stevenson, Service Manager for Neighbourhood Management at Gateshead Council, said: "Professor Defeyter and her team at the Healthy Living Lab have supported the creation of the Gateshead Community Food Network which drives the holiday activities programmes but is now helping to connect food poverty, climate change, health and wellbeing and community wealth building strategies across Gateshead. 

"Complimenting the Council's support to tackling poverty in Gateshead, Professor Defeyter influenced the creation and development of the Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission... Professor Defeyter plays an ongoing and active role in supporting the Commission's testifiers and experts by experience,"

HOLIDAY PROGRAMMES / Discover more about our leading research in the fight to end holiday hunger

Our Research Power / We are ranked within the top 40 globally for research citations.

Back to top