‘It was the happiest week of my life because we felt like we belonged’

That was the verdict of one family member who went on the recent Short Break – organised by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity and sponsored by Annington – at Calvert Trust’s Lake District site.

SSAFA’s Short Break scheme caters for serving – including reservist – families who have a child with an additional need or disability, be it developmental, emotional, behavioural, physical, or any combination of these.

Short Breaks, which are free to those attending them, are an opportunity for families to spend quality time together, to try fun adventure activities and to meet other Forces families in similar situations. UK housing provider Annington sponsored the entire cost – some £45,000 – of this break.

Calvert Trust Lake District ,and its sister site on Exmoor, offer adapted and inclusive opportunities for adventurous activities including kayaking, rock climbing, horse-riding, and archery for all abilities.

Frances Robinson, SSAFA’s Service Manager Additional Needs and Disability, said:

Due to the needs of our families, we often find that many struggle to find activities they can all do together, let alone find a break away. These breaks give families just that; they are a chance to escape the ‘day-to-day’.

All family members can participate in adventure activities together, no matter what the need and most importantly, they are chance for families to meet others in similar situations, to share experiences and support each other.”

Fran continued, quoting one of the visitors, who told her

This is the happiest and saddest week. Happiest because we felt like we belonged and were accepted with no judgement. Sad because we have to return to the real world. If we could access one of these breaks each summer, we would. Thank you SSAFA.

Another visitor said that her favourite activity was cycling, because

“… it was actually something I wanted to do for ages, but with my parents being busy at work, we weren’t able to. I also got to spend time with my dad, mainly racing and beating him!

Helen Liddell, Chair of Annington, commented:

Funding SSAFAs Short Breaks has been a central element of our overall support for military families this year.

Having had the pleasure of meeting so many of the families, the impact of a holiday at Calvert Trust was very clear to see. For Service families who have a child with a special need or disability, accessing additional support can be difficult and add to the challenges of life as a military family.

The benefits of SSAFA’s Short Breaks programme speak for themselves and we are delighted to have helped this very deserving group create some very happy memories.”

Sam Nowell, SSAFA’s Corporate Partnerships Manager added:

SSAFA is incredibly grateful to Annington for supporting – through its generous sponsorship – one entire short break to the tune of £45,000.

Projects and opportunities like these help Forces youngsters build self-confidence and the benefits these types of experiences can have on young people are immeasurable, and so I must say, on behalf of SSAFA, a big ‘thank you’ to Annington for its generous assistance with the Short Breaks, because however much it cost, the memories these serving and reservist Forces’ families made are priceless.

SSAFA’s Corporate Partners provide a lifeline to serving personnel – regulars or reserves – as well as veterans and their families. For more information, visit


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