Summer camps and classes in and around Romford
- Credit: Paul Handley
As the summer holidays loom closer, keeping children entertained is top of many parents’ priorities.
Here, the Recorder has put together a selection of summer camps and activities taking place in Havering.
Vegetarian Cooking Workshops with Meetu
Hornchurch mother Meetu Gupta is hosting a series of cooking workshops this summer, teaching children the basics of preparing healthy meals.
The mother of one, who used to own a beauty shop in the Mercury Shopping Centre, began her online cooking classes in April.
She told this paper: “They were absolutely amazing.
“The children did a fantastic job and their mums supported them really well.”
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Each lesson has a different theme, including snacks, cake and vegetarian Indian meals.
The idea stemmed from cooking with her daughter when she was studying for her exams.
"It all started as a hobby, baking always calmed my daughter down during the stress of exams.
“Then I thought, why not extend this to other children?
“It really works to destress them.”
Handley Football Fitness
For children looking for a more active activity, Handley Football Fitness is just the ticket.
Founded by father-of-five Paul Handley, the Harold Hill football company offers sessions for children aged two to 12.
Paul, whose five sons are all football-mad, started coaching one to one sessions before branching out to group activities.
He explained: “It started about a year ago, after I’d watched my boys go through training over the years, and always wanted to do something myself.
"I’ve now got 50-60 kids that I see regularly, and it's just for them to have a bit of fun each week.”
The sessions are open for children of all abilities, with Paul’s family all pitching in to help.
“It’s so important to get exercise, especially now after lockdown when children have been kept indoors for so long," he added.
“Their mental health has really suffered, and this gives them a release."
Joanne Gallant was also inspired by her children to change career path.
The mother-of-three took over Hartbeeps baby and toddler groups after enjoying the classes so much as a participant.
She now runs groups in Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster for newborns up to Reception-aged children.
Joanne said: “I wanted to give people the enjoyment I had.
“It was something I enjoyed doing, and I fancied a change.”
Hartbeeps is offering a variety of programmes throughout the summer, all promising to be "magical, musical adventures".
“We just have lots of fun at our interactive classes,” Joanne added.
“They’re all multi-sensory sessions, involving loads of colour.”
For mums looking to get fit and keep their babies busy, Sweaty Mamas Romford West offers a great solution.
The classes are a "unique and effective way" to exercise while you bond with your child.
Owner and personal trainer Rukiya Yassin said she struggled with her weight after having her second child, and started the business to help other mothers in her position.
She claimed: “There wasn’t anything out there to give us mamas a confidence boost, get rid of the aches and pains, shed calories and give us an environment which we could meet other mamas going through the same thing.
“Many groups were solely focused on (our) babies, and I wanted to start something that could do both, without forgetting that us mamas matter too.”
The workouts focus on strength building, particularly core strength which may be lost during pregnancy and birth, and can be modified to suit all abilities and needs.
Queen's Theatre Hornchurch
Is your child an aspiring thespian?
If so, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has a packed summer programme to fine-tune their acting skills.
Each week has a different theme, from musicals to acting bootcamp and ukulele beginners' workshops.
Head of learning and participation at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, James Watson, said the theatre “can’t wait” to welcome young people back.
He said: "As the summer holidays approach, we are thrilled to be welcoming budding young performers to engage in life-affirming acts of creativity with other like-minded young people.
“We know how important, now more than ever, these activities are in helping young people build positive relationships, process the ever-shifting world we are in while providing safe and inclusive space to explore, to develop and to have fun.”
Havering Council activities
Havering Council is organising a range of activities for children and adults this summer.
Health, sports development and leisure partnerships coordinator Darrell Braiden said it was great to have the events back up and running after programming was "decimated" due to the pandemic.
He said: "We are very excited as a team to welcome back residents of the borough to our sport and physical activity sessions.
"Whilst it is a smaller than usual programme, you will find something for everybody from young children to older adults."
Highlights include a basketball camp, a mini Olympics athletics competition and tennis coaching.
Children receiving free school meals may be eligible for free activities and food for four hours, on four days for four weeks.