Special Breaks CCLASP Families
A story by CCLASP
We provided three short holidays for families with children suffering from cancer and leukaemia. Fifteen families enjoyed a trip to Craig Tara in Ayr, while a further 12 enjoyed a break to Aviemore at their request. One recently bereaved family visited London.
What Special Breaks CCLASP Families did
CCLASP has a long waiting list of families requiring our services, so we found there were many that could have benefited from a short break. We prioritised families with terminally ill children. We sent fifteen sick young people and their parents/carers to Craig Tara Caravan Park in Ayr. This is a Haven Holiday site, and families enjoyed facilities and activities such as a water park, crazy golf, the beach, an adventure trail and live entertainment. These breaks lasted five days/four nights.
Upon their request, twelve families with very sick young people requested a half-board stay at Hilton Coylumbridge in Aviemore. We have run holidays here before and they proved to be popular, as evidenced by the fact that several families requested this break instead of Craig Tara. Set in the heart of the Highland countryside, on the banks of the River Druie, this break gave our families some much needed tranquillity. They took part in activities such as walks, cycles and trips to nearby attractions like Loch Morlich, the Highland Wildlife Park and Landmark Forest Adventure Park. This break also lasted five days/four nights, as it was offered as a directly alternative to Craig Tara.
One recently bereaved family requested a trip to London as their two surviving children (who were also responsible for care) wanted to see a west end show. They travelled by train using a special friends and family rail fare and stayed for five days, enjoying the best of London’s tourist attractions, including a performance of Wicked, a trip on the London Eye and Madame Tussauds.
I definitely think I’m more relaxed now, having been on the trip, and while every day is still difficult (as is the nature of the beast), it’s good to know there are people out there who are willing to let us take a break from ‘real life’ if we need it.” – Daniel, father of five-year-old Fraser
To be able to actually take the girls there and put a smile on their face was incredible – it’s the first true happiness we’ve felt since Jess’ death. She would have loved it. The girls really loved seeing Wicked and our youngest, Chloe, even said that she could imagine Jess growing up to be an actress and playing Glinda the good witch. Thank you CCLASP for providing such a huge source of comfort in our time of need.”
Michelle and Paul, parents of twelve-year-old Jess, who sadly died last year
What CCLASP has learnedThere is huge demand for holidays and respite breaks, but sometimes we have to limit them due to restricted funding. We frequently receive unrestricted donations, but these often go towards the day-to-day running of our services e.g. maintaining and fuelling our minibus, running our drop-in centre and buying Buzzys (ice-filled bees that vibrate and offer topical pain relief). The grant from Better Breaks has enabled us to reach out to more families and send those who have never been on one of our holidays to experience this for the first time.
We had anticipated that we would send 40 families to Craig Tara, but realistically we could only send 15 families at a time due to fluctuations in pricing based on seasonal demand (the first 15 were sent in the summer holidays). We intended to send more in March 2017, but 12 of these families most of whom had terminally ill children specifically requested to go to Aviemore instead as they had heard good things about it from other CCLASP families.
We offered the Craig Tara break to one bereaved family, but they suggested they could go to London instead as it had always been a dream of their late daughter’s and their two surviving daughters wanted to see a show. Although these changes created some challenges, we decided it was more important to put families’ needs and desires first. We endeavour to create the best possible experience and we adapted the plans to suit them. This has taught us the importance of contingency planning and retaining a degree of flexibility.
Our waiting list has grown even more as a result of these breaks, because parents and carers have recommended them to others. In future, we hope to secure enough funding to send more and more families away on these invaluable breaks.