Free breaks and holidays for carers & families

At times it can feel as though a holiday is just a dream. Lack of time, lack of funding, and lack of opportunites are all reasons why some people can feel like the ability to just ‘get away’, is an impossibilty. For our carers these feelings are amplified due to their caring roles. So, organising a holiday, finding the time, paying for it and then travelling to the destination are all barriers. 

Thankfully there are charities out there to help you get to where you need to be. They can pay for you, even help with the travelling, and all have the goal of helping young people, families, and those who need it most to start enjoying themselves with a much needed holiday or break.

Lets take a look at some of them… 

Originally called Family Holiday Association and started in 1975, Family Holiday Charity ‘help families get time away together, often for the first time ever’. 

They believe (and so do we) that holidays as a family can open new possibilities together, reconnecting and making new and happy memories together. The people helped by FHC are often going on their first ever holiday, with 48% of the families they worked for never had a holiday before. 

You can choose the type of holiday you need; caravan by the coast, an adventure through the countryside woodland, day trip to a museum or theme park – whatever it is you and your family need. 

You can have your accomodation and travel paid for, and join the thousands of families who FHC have helped over the years. Including the 1,854 families (7,870 individuals) they helped make the dream of a holiday come true in 2022.

Find out more about Family Holiday Charity here

Go Beyond is a charity with a focus on providing free breaks, day breaks or longer ‘residential’ breaks, to children facing serious challenges. This includes being a young carer but also children living in poverty, suffering from neglect, bereavement, abuse, bullying, or just simply being a child living in a situation where they could benefit from a break.

They have centres in the Peak District and Cornwall, so you will always have the beautiful countryside surrounding you and clear night skies covering you. The centres themselves have a Sports Barn where you can find trampolines, giant Jenga, all the ball games you could ask for, and then when you’re exhausted you can relax in the lounge with a film night and some board games too. They also offer an Arts and Crafts Barn where you can show off your creative talents or just go wild with colours. Let’s not forget about the games room either, decked out with table tennis, pool, and football tables. 

There’s so much to do and even more when their helpful activity leaders plan and line up some fun things to do when you arrive. If you’re staying for a residential break then you can look forward to spending the day horseback riding, surfing, rock climbing, and at night you’ll be toasting marshmallows on a campfire. 

To send a child to Go Beyond they must be between 8 – 13 years old. They must also be referred and Go Beyond do ask that referrers are “individuals working with children and young people in a professional capacity. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept referrals from parents or guardians of children. Instead, speak to a social worker, teacher, or other professional working with your child to submit a request on their behalf.”

See here about referring a child

See here to learn more about Go Beyond

Think of a place in England or Wales and chances are the YHA will have cheap accommodation for you. Whether it’s you and friends or a family getaway, there is something for you and in some of the most beautiful places in the country. 

Yet more than that, YHA also offer support programmes for schools and colleges through bursary funding, but also support groups of young people and families with their Breaks Programme. 

The Breaks Programme is fully funded supported trips for groups of young people and families facing challenges, that make it difficult to travel. This programme is designed to go to those who need it most, so you must submit an application. Also, similarly to Go Beyond, there is a referral system in place too. Young carers are high up on the list of eligibility and with applications reopening on 16th October 2023, you should get your name in the hat as soon as you can. 

See here to learn more about Youth Hostel Association

See here to learn more about Youth Hostel Association Breaks Programme with eligibility criteria and how to apply. 

See here to learn more about the support for schools and colleges. 

We know some people may have negative thoughts when it comes to staying in a hostel, especially as a family or a young person. The YHA is different. Look at their Stratford-Upon-Avon site, a Georgian Mansion set in three acres of beautiful grounds. 

Founded in 2015 Fiona and Andy Coldron, with the aim to give those undergoing cancer treatment ‘something to look forward to’. Sadly, Fiona passed in 2021 from secondary breast cancer, but her work continues through her family’s efforts and dedication. 

Something to look forward to is a little different from the other charities listed. In that it doesn’t just provide holidays and breaks, but also concert tickets, jewellery, meals out, day breaks, and more. 

They have what they call Main Gifts, Additional Gifts, and Extra Gifts. 

‘Main Gifts’ tend to be larger, one off experiences with a high value including holidays. You are eligible to receive up to 1 Main Gift’ per year however an application does not always guarantee you will be allocated the gift. 

Additional Gifts’ tend to be smaller, regular or lower value gifts including restaurant meals or special family days. You are eligible to receive up to 2 ‘Additional Gifts’ per year however an application does not always guarantee you will be allocated the gift.

‘Extra Gifts’ are donated last minute gifts or bulk experiences including event tickets. You are eligible to receive unlimited ‘Extra Gifts’ per year however an application does not guarantee you will be allocated the gift.

You can apply for a ‘Gift’ if you are currently receiving treatment for cancer OR are in the first year following the completion of your treatment (includes either surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy).

Applicants with a secondary or terminal diagnosis can continue to apply for gifts.

See here to learn more about Something To Look Forward To

See here to learn more about ‘Gifts’ and other frequently asked questions

Related Health, Adult Carer, Young Adult Carer, Young Carer

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Raising awareness with BBC Radio WM

Our own Pauline Manby shared with Merisha Stevenson of BBC Radio WM, the work we do to help support and raise awareness for unpaid carers. Watch the segment here.

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