Family Caravan Holidays Project
A story by Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme
We helped families enjoy holiday short breaks at one of our caravans at Wemyss Bay Caravan Park.
Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme is a registered charity that each year provides holidays for more than 500 disadvantaged and disabled children and their families primarily through holidays at our holiday caravans.
What Family Caravan Holidays Project did
For many families, holidays are out of reach. Almost half (47.3%) of Glasgow’s residents 283,000 people reside in the 20% of most deprived areas in Scotland and 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 improve self-esteem and 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.
Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme offers three holiday choices:
Most children enjoy holidays with their families/carers at our five static caravans at Wemyss Bay, children have a holiday with our volunteer host families and that young people enjoy activity based breaks at our caravans with their youth groups.
In 2018, we enabled 566 children and young people, 204 families and 455 adults to get a holiday or break. This included 101 children with a disability, 34 with multiple care needs, 65 children affected by domestic violence, 48 children on autism spectrum, 27 families affected by bereavement, 81 single parents, 55 young carers and 28 kinship carers. It also included 55 adults with mental health issues, 22 adults with a disability and 15 families, 30 adults and 36 children from black and ethnic minority communities.
Of the 566 children and young people who benefited from the Holiday Scheme during 2018, 7 went on holiday with 5 of our host families, 48 went to our caravan for an activity based break with their youth group and 511 went with their families to our caravans for a holiday. In 2018, we fully refurbished and re-fitted our 10-berth caravan, purchased additional caravan capacity at peak holiday periods and introduced the option of shorter breaks over the school holidays. This enabled us to assist 122 more children and young people than in 2017.
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 Beaks 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. For 2018 this includes the provision of shorter breaks as well as week long breaks, purchase of additional holiday capacity at peak school holiday periods and the promotion of 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.
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 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.
We enabled children with a disability, and with multiple care needs, to get a break at one of our caravans at Wemyss Bay Holiday Park. This was primarily through a week long break and included free access to on-site entertainment and leisure facilities.
A family of 4 enjoyed a week at one of our caravans in July. The eldest child has autism and the youngest has a development delay. Mum commented that it was just fantastic to get away from daily pressures and a range of appointments. We did things for the first time and enjoyed many lovely experiences. The kids went on their first boat trip, enjoyed visiting and playing on the beach and marvelled at the jellyfish sightings! They just enjoyed the safety and freedom to play outside, something they often cannot do at home. On their return they had lovely memories to look back on and talk about and it provided a boost for the day to day return to routine.
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.
One mum said she had a fabulous time and the best sleep in a year and a half! She was able to relax for the first time in a while. She had support during the break and enjoyed time with her autistic son as well as some time to think and her own time. There was enough to do on site but it was not overwhelming and her son didn’t use his iPad for the whole week.
Feedback from carers and referrers on the positive impact and benefit of a break including when they return home.
By providing 191 families and 361 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 quiet coffee and book, a walk or a meal. Other carers have commented how they also got time for their own pastimes such as fishing and swimming.
A health visitor said that "the family were delighted with their holiday". Mum said that it was a wake up call to see the children out playing and enjoying themselves with no worries. She herself feels that the holiday allowed time to be able to clear her head and make plans for the future and gave her confidence to get out and about when back home. The youngest child learned to swim independently while there. This holiday has undoubtedly made a huge difference to this family.