Some time to unwind, enjoy yourself and let go of the stresses of everyday life – going on holiday has several benefits that have us all excitedly booking breaks at least once a year, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone.
Go Beyond (formerly CHICKS) is a charity that offers week-long respite breaks for children aged 8-15 from various backgrounds, whether they’re suffering from neglect, poverty, bullying, abuse, substance abuse by a parent, or living as young carers. These are children who have probably never been on holiday before, or have too many responsibilities at home to live the carefree life that most children their age do. 20th November is UNICEF’s World Children’s Day – a global day of action, where kids all over the world can take a stand for their lives. And we, along with Go Beyond, believe that every child has the right to enjoy a holiday and have a break.
We visited their Daleside Retreat in Derbyshire in October and saw first-hand the impact and joy these breaks bring to young children.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the Partnerships & Regional Manager, Mabel, before going on a tour of the retreat. She spoke to us about the day-to-day happenings there, took us around the various facilities, including an indoor sports barn with a football pitch and two large trampolines, an arts and crafts room, air hockey, table football and ping pong.
When speaking about what they provide the kids, something that really tugged at the heartstrings of the team was that they have a collection of clothes for children who come with nothing but their school uniform (and they can take home the clothes they wear). This was a hard thing to hear, but just one of the many things Go Beyond provides these kids with.
Once we’d had a walk around the retreat, we were then taken into the cafeteria where we introduced ourselves to the group of kids we would be spending the day with. When the picnic was made and we were ready to go, we headed out on the minibuses for an afternoon at the Peak District National Park.
Unsurprisingly, when the children had permission to jump around in muddy puddles and wipe it all over their faces, they revelled in it (they probably would have rolled around in it if they were allowed, too!) A few of the Oliver’s Travels team even joined in the fun before sandwiches and ice creams followed.
Bellies full and faces sufficiently muddy, we headed further into the park where we pulled up near the water. What ensued was plenty of group games, such as splat, rock paper scissors, and a game where you evolve from an egg to a chicken, and so on – it was so funny to see even the adults pretending to be eggs and dinosaurs!
Once the group games were over – and Ravi still hadn’t evolved from an egg – the kids were given some free time to explore, play games or sit and chat. Naturally, a lot of the boys started a game of football, while others went off on a scavenger hunt.
The whole Oliver’s Travels team were keen to join in the football (proving the kids were the ones with the real talent!) before we returned to the retreat where the games continued – a couple of us not able to resist jumping about on the trampolines…
To outsiders, this was just a bunch of kids having a fun day out, but in reality it was so much more than that – for each child, it was a much-needed escape from a stressful home situation, an opportunity to escape reality, make memories, develop social skills, build confidence and, most importantly, have fun in an open and caring environment.
The Go Beyond team is made up of a mixture of staff members and volunteers dedicated to improving the lives of these children, and they were running full-steam-ahead the whole day. You could clearly see the relationships they had quickly built with the children (so much so, the children were wiping mud on all their faces!).
Go Beyond currently receive referrals from teachers and social workers for children who are in need of a break (you can also refer a child here). They have quite a long waiting list, which just goes to show exactly how many children in the UK could benefit from one of these week-long retreats. If you would like to make a difference follow this link to donate.
Josie went on two Go Beyond breaks as a child, and now works as a volunteer for them. Read her story and how this charity helped her when she was living as a young carer for her mum.
We donate 1% of our profits to Go Beyond and Matt, one of the OT team that visited the Daleside Retreat, also ran the London Parks Half Marathon to help raise money. We are so happy to be working with such a worthwhile charity and look forward to doing so for many years to come.