Big Ideas is a community engagement organisation specialising in innovative youth programming across the UK. This summer, Big Ideas brought flagship national programmes to young people in Westminster via the HAF programme. These included: 

  • An engineering challenge to tackle climate change with researchers from Imperial College zooming in to give live feedback on the young people’s ideas;
  • An opportunity to make a contribution to the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre to be built in Westminster through a creative commemoration challenge – the stones painted by the young people will be incorporated into the Memorial;
  • Taking part in the Mayor of London’s volunteering programme for schools by becoming a social action champion taking action on the issues they care about with GameChangers;
  • Exploring inclusion through sport by taking part in the Big Ideas pilot programme celebrating gender equality in sport linked to the forthcoming Women’s EUROs tournament;
  • Designing and creating the Big Ideas Summer Camp recipe book – an innovative way for young people to share nutritional information through peer-to-peer exchange.
HAF provision delivery overview

Big Ideas ran 4 weeks of Summer Camps in August at Edward Wilson Primary School in Westminster. Each week consisted of 4 half days of activities, from 8:30am to 1:30pm. The first three weeks were open to young people in primary school and the final week was open to young people in secondary school. 

Each week consisted of skill and relationship building, physical exercise and engaging education activity based on four daily themes; social action, engineering, commemoration and equality in sport. Food was also provided each day to every participant.  The balance of activities was in line with the DfE guidance for HAF and included at least 30 mins of physical activity each day as well as nutritional information.

52 young people participated in at least one session and 50% of those participants qualified for free school meals, receiving 91 meals in total. Young people who had been registered as having additional needs, including ADHD and being on the Autistic Spectrum, attended the Summer Camps and several young people attended more than one week of activity, with the highest number of sessions attended by one young person being 11.

Online provision

Big Ideas Summer Camps were in person activity camps taking place at Edward Wilson Primary School. As part of our contingency planning for complying with Government COVID-19 policy, Big Ideas created a back-up programme of online provision in the event of a positive case. On Monday 9th August, Big Ideas was informed that a young person attending the camp had tested positive for COVID-19. In line with our contingency plan, the rest of Week 2 of the Big Ideas summer camps was online. The young people had access to an adapted programme online with 2.5 hours of live programming each day.

Provision of nutritional information and food

Lunch, snacks and drinks were provided on site each day of the Summer Camps. During the week of online provision, lunches were picked up from the school. The young people in the family who were isolating, received a daily lunch delivery by the Big Ideas team. The nutritional information requirement was delivered through the creation of the Summer Camps recipe book with the young people during each week of the camps. The young people also shared healthy eating tips as part of this structured activity.  Big Ideas wanted to ensure the nutritional information was shared in a meaningful, dynamic way.

Case studies

Case study one: Matteo

Matteo* signed up for the third week of Summer Camps with Big Ideas and it was noted on his registration form that he has additional needs. The Big Ideas team were told:

Matteo struggles with new people and making friends.

His parents requested that his older brother (who is in Year 8) attend with him, as Matteo finds his presence helpful, and we agreed that this would be acceptable to ensure Matteo’s participation in the programme even though this week was only open to young people in school years 3 to 6.

The first day of Summer Camps with Big Ideas began with warm up and introduction games, which both boys took part in. The staff encouraged them to join groups of other children during games as they tended to withdraw as a pair. Matteo seemed somewhat shy but happy to take part when encouraged, and his brother was much more extroverted.

The main activity on Monday was GameChangers, which is a social action project designed for young people in London. It asks the young people to explore issues they care about and culminates in them taking part in social action which during the Summer Camps was a ‘playground protest’. The young people created informative posters and engaging placards about their chosen issues.

On the day there were two groups; one focused on climate change and the environment, and the other focused on tackling racism and knife crime. Matteo and his brother were in the latter group and both spoke very eloquently about why these issues were important to them as young men of colour. They then worked with their group to create and lead a chant and performed it in the playground. Both young people really enjoyed the day and the opportunity given to talk about issues they are passionate about, as well as to work in their group with 3 other young people who all cared about the same issue.

On the second day when Matteo was dropped off, his brother was not with him. His father explained that Matteo felt comfortable attending on his own and didn’t feel that he needed his brother there. On the same day, another young person joined the group for the first time.

Matteo was asked if he would like to help them settle into the group and help them make friends. 

Matteo was very pleased with this idea and took the young person to meet his group from the first day and involved them in a game they were playing.

Day two of Summer Camps was The Great Exhibition², a STEM based project that culminates in a live presentation. In a small group, Matteo worked with others to design a solar powered machine that would replenish the polar ice caps, tackling climate change and creating a new habitat for polar bears. He then presented alongside his group live on Zoom to Beltran Sanjonia-Coburgo-Gotha, an Imperial College Researcher who works in Environmental Science. Matteo participated fully, asking and answering questions and supporting his team in their presentation.

(Image: Matteo presenting his invention with his group)

On the Wednesday and Thursday of week 3 the group took part in Foundation Stones (learning about the Kindertransport and British Heroes of the Holocaust), and No Barriers (celebrating women’s football in the build up to the Women’s EUROs in 2022).

On both days Matteo connected with the other children, helped those that needed it, encouraged young people who seemed lonely to come play with him and finished the week in a friendly football match with all the young people.

At the end of the last day, all participants were asked what their favourite part of the week was, and Matteo said:

My favourite thing was meeting everyone, meeting all of the new people. I wish you have a great summer. I will still be caring about you all very much.

When we told Matteo’s parents after the session that he had made new friends and had even helped a new young person settle in they said that was ‘wonderful to hear’ and they were also pleased that they were ‘doing so many different activities and learning new things’.  Matteo told us he felt confident about going back to school in September.

*Matteo’s name has been changed.

Case study two: Sara

Across the three weeks that were open to primary school children, Sara* attended 11 sessions out of a possible 12. When the staff met Sara on the first day of Summer Camps, she appeared incredibly shy. Her parent explained that:

Sara doesn’t really talk.

On the first day, Sara happily took part in the warm up and introduction games but did not speak in front of the group at any point and would only speak to staff reluctantly. At break times staff encouraged Sara to play with the other children but she didn’t want to and instead sat on her own, not wanting to chat with staff either. On the second day, Sara asked if she could use the break time to draw rather than play games and staff allowed her to bring some art supplies outside. When asked, Sara would explain her drawings and in particular her love of drawing dragons.

Sara really engaged with the activities on the first two days which included creating bright, engaging placards for GameChangers about an issue she cared about, for which she chose climate change, and designing an invention for the The Great Exhibition². On the second day Sara worked in a group and together they designed a litter picking, amphibious car. Sara led on drawing the design of their invention, incorporating ideas and feedback from the rest of the group and even added her own flair; a rooftop BBQ. 

(Image: Sara working on her design with her group)

Staff assured Sara that she didn’t have to speak in front of the guest researcher on Zoom if she didn’t want to but that she should go up with her group during the presentation. Sara chose to speak, explaining how she had brought their design to life and her additions. She also asked the researcher insightful questions. This was the first time Sara had spoken in front of the group.

On the third day, the group were introduced to Foundation Stones, a project that asks them to create a painted stone that will become part of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, which is due to be built in Westminster. The group were introduced to different British Heroes of the Holocaust and decorated their stones in memory of them. Sara spent a lot of time on her stone and received positive feedback from the rest of the group. They also designed a recipe book as a group which was then professionally printed. Sara had taken a lot of time at home to create beautiful pages for her recipe book and several of the other children came over to look at her work. That day at break time, several other young people asked Sara if they could join her in drawing during the break and she said yes. By the end of the break the whole group were chatting and sharing their drawings with each other and one even made a point of asking the staff to come look at a piece Sara had created.

On the final day of the first week, Sara’s mum came to the staff and said:

She hasn’t stopped talking, shes told me about everything you’ve been doing.

I’ve never known her talk so much!

She then asked if Sara would be able to attend for another week. The facilitators explained that it would be doing the same activities and Sara said that was fine and she would still like to come back.

Sara attended most of the virtual sessions offered in week 2. Even though she had some technical difficulties Sara took part actively using the chat box, and the next day when her microphone was fixed she spoke consistently during the sessions, even introducing the group to her pet budgies. Her younger brother also joined for some of the sessions and Sara helped him to take part.

Sara returned for week 3 actively taking part in discussions and in welcoming new members to the group, including befriending a new girl who was also very shy. By the end of the week Sara was talking about ‘her friends’ and being very vocal in the group activities. The staff suggested that because she had already done the activities she could help guide the new young people through them. Sara was happy to take this role and led several of the groups over the week, providing positive feedback and support to her group members. When asked about her favourite part of Summer Camp, Sara said ‘my favourite part was everything!’

On the last day, Sara’s mum said that ‘she’s so sad that this is the last one, she’s asked why she can’t do this everyday’ and told staff:

The change in her has been amazing, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Sara.

*Sara’s name has been changed


I’m going to miss this, not going to lie. I can’t believe it is the last day of summer camp. Meeting a real life scientist was really fun! I already miss this. My favourite thing was making new friends. My favourite thing was meeting the scientist, it was so cool. That was really fun! My favourite part was painting the Foundation Stones. I want to do another stone. My stone’s going to be in a memorial, wow! I want to be a scientist now.  She is happy she is coming back next week. My favourite was everything! My favourite thing was definitely everything, it was all so fun. I’m going to pick out 3 things – I enjoyed making the football, the books, and definitely enjoyed learning about WW2. I really liked three things: women’s football, cookbooks and the big football match. This has been the best part of my summer.