SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, has announced it is now taking bookings for this year’s Short Breaks weeks taking place on 28th May – 3rd June and 29th July – 4th August. The SSAFA Short Breaks offer new experiences and activities for children, young people and families from the Army community.
Each year, the UK’s oldest Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, offers two free week-long adventure breaks; The Siblings and Young Carer Break for children aged 8-12 only, and The Family Break for families with a child with an additional need or disability.
The Siblings and Young Carer Break is an exciting opportunity for children to gain independence, and bond with other children who come from a Forces background. Children are encouraged to relax and have fun, whilst taking part in a range of exciting activities, such as go carting, quad biking, bush craft games, abseiling, archery, low ropes, and lots of other team orientated games.
The Family Break is an occasion for Forces families to spend quality time together, which can be particularly difficult when serving parents are frequently living away from home, or there is an additional need or disability within the family. Family members are given their own room on site, and invited to take part in a variety of exciting activities throughout the week, including horse riding, kayaking, biking, sailing, swimming, archery, abseiling and bush craft.
Paul Reardon served in the Army for 28 years and is now in the Reserves. He and his wife, Sharon, have two sons; Lewis, 11, and Rowan, 9, who is severely disabled. Lewis has previously attended SSAFA’s Short Break for Siblings and Young Carers, and in 2016 the whole family went on SSAFA’s Short Break for Families.
Sharon Reardon said of the Short Breaks:
“Lewis has been on SSAFA’s Siblings and Young Carers Break before, but unfortunately I didn’t get round to applying in time this year – so SSAFA suggested we try the Family Break instead.
It was quite a long way for us to travel down to Exmoor. If I’m honest, I think we both thought that one of us would always be looking after Rowan, and we weren’t sure how much of a holiday it would be. Rowan is severely disabled. He has profound multiple learning difficulties, he is visually impaired, almost completely immobile, and he has to be fed through a tube. We have tried various activities in the past, but Rowan is very rarely able to join in with things.
But as it turns out – from start to finish, the whole week was brilliant. Our accommodation was brilliant, the food, the staff, the other families, the instructors, and most importantly, Rowan was involved in everything – which was amazing for us! I was doubtful about the abseiling and rock climbing, but our instructor said that Rowan would be able to do it. It was unbelievable. They had him in the pool as soon as we arrived, and he spent a lovely afternoon moving between floating in the pool and going in the Jacuzzi. We even had a group trip out one day to a Theme Park.
It was lovely to have that change midweek and do something completely different, and we had a great time.”
Recent veterans may also apply (who have left the services within the last year), however priority for spaces on the break will be given to serving families or reservists.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Siblings and Young Carers Break
When: 28th May – 3rd June
Where: Kingswood Staffordshire http://www.kingswood.co.uk/centres/staffordshire/
This break is for children aged 8-12 only. Children are accompanied by trained and vetted volunteers, along with SSAFA staff and the trained activity instructors at the centre itself.
Daily activities include: Go carting, quad biking, laser zone, bush craft games, abseiling, archery, low ropes, team games, fencing, caving, and camp fire.
When: 29th July – 4th August 2017
Where: Calvert Trust Exmoor – http://www.calvert-trust.org.uk/exmoor/exmoor
Families attending this break must have a child with an additional need or disability in their family. There must be at least one parent attending this break alongside their children (aged 8-14 only).
Daily activities include: horse riding, kayaking, biking, sailing, archery, abseiling, bush craft, low ropes.
For more information about the Siblings and Young Carer break or Family break, visit www.ssafa.org.uk/help-you/currently-serving/holidays-and-events-service-children
To apply for the Short Breaks or to find out about volunteering opportunities, contact Hannah Wiltshire on Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 463 9275
Notes to editors
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity (formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association), provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force, and their families. This includes both regulars and reserves.
Each year, our professional staff and network of more than 7,000 volunteers provide assistance to some 55,000 people, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan.