Family Caravan Holiday Project
A story by Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme
Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme is a registered charity (SCIO) that each year provides holidays for more than 500 disadvantaged and disabled children and their families primarily through holidays at our 5 holiday caravans at Wemyss Bay Holiday Park.
What Family Caravan Holiday Project did
For many families, holidays are out of reach. Almost half (47.3%) of Glasgow’s residents stay in the 20% of most deprived areas in Scotland; 34% of all children in the city were estimated to be living in poverty in 2016, that is over 37,000 children, many of whom may never enjoy a few days at the seaside or in the country. A break can help promote better health and wellbeing.
For more than 60 years Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme (GCHS) has provided holidays for thousands of disadvantaged children and their families, providing an opportunity to break the routine, have fun and build positive memories and experiences. Each year GCHS organises holidays for around 500 children from the Greater Glasgow area. GCHS offers 3 holiday choices: • Most children enjoy holidays with their families/carers at our 5 static caravans at Wemyss Bay. Children have a holiday with our volunteer host families. Young people enjoy activity based breaks at our caravans with their youth groups
In 2019, we enabled 558 children and young people, 232 families and 415 adults to get a holiday or break. This included 103 children with a disability, 59 with multiple care needs, 83 children affected by domestic violence, 56 children on autism spectrum, 156 pre-5 aged children, 28 families affected by bereavement, 85 single parents, 61 young carers and 30 kinship carers. It also included 83 adults with mental health issues, 26 adults with a disability and 26 families, 43 adults and 60 children from black and ethnic communities.
Of the 558 children and young people who benefited from the Holiday Scheme during 2019, 7 went on holiday with our 5 host families, 60 went to our caravans for an activity based break with their youth group and 491 went with their families to our caravans for a holiday.
In 2019, we undertook 2 internal refits to our caravans, continued to purchase additional caravan capacity at peak holiday periods and continued the option of shorter breaks over the school holidays. We also supported family days out and in partnership 60 young people took part in free volunteer-led school holiday football camps. We have also bought a new adapted caravan for 2020.
What Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme has learned
Each year the experiences and feedback we receive reinforces the need for what we do and the need for affordable and accessible breaks for all. Better Breaks funding is important recognising the role we can play within the broader short breaks agenda as well as confirming our commitment to being open and accessible to all who may benefit from what we can offer.
We continue to encourage and promote applications from a range of statutory and voluntary organisations and work with them to enable our provision to those children and families who would most benefit. Within our resources we will continue to look at ways we can improve and adapt.
We continue to offer shorter breaks as well as week long breaks; as fund allow purchase additional holiday capacity at peak school holiday periods and have promoted applications from families with pre-school children only for the more difficult to fill holiday periods such as the period after the school summer holidays. In 2019, this saw us provide 156 pre-5 aged children with a break.
How Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme has benefitted from the funding
Our ongoing commitment is to continue to give disadvantaged and disabled children and their families/carers the opportunity of a holiday. We continue to be over-subscribed each year by around 100 applications. We continue to be grateful for funding received through the Better Breaks Fund and the support from Shared Care Scotland. As a small charity we always take the opportunity to engage with any funding or consultation events held subject to our limited staffing resources. Engaging through the Shared Care network is always beneficial and learning about other organisations. Funding ensures we can continue to maintain and run our adapted caravan ensuring we can meet a wide variety of needs.
We will enable 90 children and young people with disabilities to get a holiday at one of our caravans enabling the opportunity to participate in fun events and activities on site, experience a different environment and create happy memories.
During 2019 we enabled 103 children with a disability, 59 with multiple care needs, to get a break at one of our caravans at Wemyss Bay Holiday Park. This was either through a week or shorter long break and included free access to on-site entertainment and leisure facilities. Our adapted caravan enables us to meet the needs of as many children and families as possible.
One mum said ‘it’s hard to describe just how beneficial the holiday was; it was a well needed break and utterly incredible. Breathing space. Relaxation. A week of no worry. A week of new memories. A game of bingo just for me. A week of new experiences – my son was able to go in a swimming pool for the first time; my son was able to watch the sun set for the first time; my son went on a ferry for the first time; my youngest son’s first holiday.
By enabling up to 180 carers to get a break at one of our caravans
Parents and carers feedback to us regularly about the benefit of a break. We seek to ensure that the main carer has support while on holiday whether that be a spouse, partner, another family member or friend. this ensures support as well as allowing the main carer some free time and opportunity to relax and get some individual respite.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation for giving my son and me a fantastic opportunity to have an amazing holiday at Wemyss Bay Holiday Park. All the staff at the caravan park went over and above to make our holiday fabulous. The caravan was lovely and comfortable with spectacular views. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. Although the weather wasn’t great, we made the best of it. We even managed to get to Rothesay and Largs. We had great fun at the holiday park entertainment, swimming and adventure play park. There were lots of things to do to keep us occupied. Most of all, my son and I spent valuable and cherished time together. I had a relaxing and tranquil time. I am so grateful for this experience. The timing of this holiday was perfect, as my son starts school in August. I had the opportunity to give him a wee bit more freedom and independence at the indoor entertainment area and around the park. I can’t believe how much he has matured in this short period of time, for that alone, I can’t thank you enough.
Feedback from carers and referrers on the positive impact and benefit of a break including when they return home.
By providing 232 families and 415 adults to get a holiday or break, the Holiday Scheme enables parents and carers time away from their home environment and daily routines. It provides an opportunity outside caring with their family but also for time to themselves whether that be the opportunity for a coffee and book, a walk or a meal., a game of bingo, a walk on the beach or in the countryside. Essentially, the chance for even a small bit of their own time and space.
Wemyss Bay Holiday Park – feedback from mum Amy It is so nice to be able give back in this small way after what the scheme has done for our family. A little bit of background about us. I have 3 boys and 2 of them are on the autism spectrum. My eldest has Asperger’s syndrome and my six year old, sadly, had a very serious regression when he was two years old and lost all his language and his ability to understand and communicate with us. Since then our life has been a whirlwind of damage limitation, coping strategies, therapies, hospital appointments and stress. Our boy is an amazing wee person and I consider myself a very lucky mum but the stress from his behaviours has been monumental for me and my older boys. This year especially has been so hard for us, we have been struggling to cope and felt like we were being let down by everyone who was meant to be supporting us and then we were offered a holiday by your scheme. It was like a sudden ray of light in amongst all the chaos. All of a sudden someone was looking after us, taking care of us with this lovely, kind and generous offer of a break, in a gorgeous big caravan with some of the loveliest views we have ever seen! We went on lovely walks, we had ice cream and chips in Largs. We were so lucky with the weather. We took the wee boy swimming which he loved and the big boys went to the entertainment every night to ‘chat’ to girls and got some hilarious and savage knock backs. It was an amazing break, we had a fantastic and restful time and even found out that we’re pure geeks and love a jigsaw! We can’t thank you enough for looking after us and giving us the gift of this holiday. It has meant the world of difference to our wee exhausted gang. We feel looked after and rested and far more able to cope with our difficult times. We are so grateful for and will never forget your kindness. Love from, Amy and the boys