Back in December 2016, we began our Book a Break, Give a Break campaign in aid of CHICKS – a national children’s charity providing free respite breaks to disadvantaged children from all over the UK.
For every booking made by January 31st, 2017, we made a donation to the charity to cover the cost of a week’s retreat for 16 children. Our final total raised was a whopping £21,686. You see, for many of the children that come to CHICKS, it’s their first real break away from home. And, we’re utterly privileged to have spent the day with their team during the Easter break.
Our Co-Founders Oliver and Ravi, alongside a few members of our team made the trip down to Exeter. David, one of the retreat volunteers greeted us at the station with the CHICKS mobile (sounds groovy right?).
After an hour’s drive, we arrived at the Moorland in Devon. Surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Dartmoor, Moorland is also home to CHICKS’ head office.
We were then greeted by Jenny, the Development Manager, who took us on a tour of the facilities. The grounds are brilliant; a wonderful haven for kids to escape from any stresses, to make new friends and create new memories.
Jenny took us around the play barn which has two trampolines, a maze and games for the kids to get stuck into. Beside the barn is an indoor sports barn – perfect for rainy days. There is also a games room stacked with snooker tables, ping pong and even air hockey. And there’s even a playing field which compliments the spring weather.
After the tour, it was time to meet the kids to have lunch together. On the menu: wraps – delish. Once we had a plate, we spread across three tables to get to the know the children a little bit more. Every single one was welcoming, loving and friendly. Most of all, they were raving about how much fun they were having. They then let slip they had spent the morning making us Easter nests – which we happily polished off together for dessert.
A roar of excitement quickly filled the air, when one of the leaders announced it was time for FREE PLAY. Even though it’s been years since we last enjoyed playtime, we couldn’t help but share the same excitement. The kids eagerly broke off, with some playing football, others jumping on the trampoline and an intense game of snooker.
Free play adventures
It was safe to say we all had a blast. But the fun was far from over. Each week is specifically tailored to fit the needs of each group but has adventure, creativity and relaxation. On the agenda for the afternoon was horse riding. Many had never seen a horse before – which puts the good work CHICKS do into perspective.
We travelled 10 minutes down the road to Dartmoor and watched as the kids mounted their horses/ponies. Nothing could wipe away those smiling faces.
Sadly, it was time for us to say goodbye – for all but one of us. Felix, our Marketing Exec, volunteered for the remainder of the week.
Speaking of his time at CHICKS he says “Through CHICKS we created memories that both volunteers and children will hold onto forever! I’ve never seen kids smile so much in my life. I’m certain this experience will have a huge impact in these kid’s lives and will shape them up to be great footballers, professionals and parents one day!”
On our way home, we shared stories and funny anecdotes from the day with each other. We got to witness first-hand how a CHICKS Retreat has such a positive impact on these children – something we will always be grateful that we could be a part of.
Every little helps, and it all goes towards an amazing cause. If you missed out during our campaign, don’t worry – you can still donate to CHICKS.
If you know a child who could benefit from a CHICKS break, refer them! Children can be referred to CHICKS for a number of reasons. They could be living in poverty, be young carers or be subject to neglect, abuse, emotional distress or any other situation that causes them to have a hard time at home. Aged between 8-15 years old and you’ll need to complete the referral form – it’s really simple and you could make all the difference!