A leading youth charity is appealing to people to give the gift of adventure to school children in the West Midlands this Christmas and help it ensure than no child misses out on a residential school trip. With the gap between rich and poor widening and more families falling into poverty, more children than ever are missing out because their parents cannot afford a school trip.
YHA (England & Wales) now wants to raise £50,000 in order to provide 600 children who can’t afford to take part in a residential school trip, with a fully-funded two night residential that includes outdoor activities and meals.
Beyond providing accommodation and meals, the residential will give the children the chance to discover nature, see stars in clear skies or paddle in the sea for the first time; simple things that many children living in poverty do not have the opportunity to do.
Explaining the importance of ensuring every child has the opportunity to have a residential school trip, Wayne Norrie CEO of Greenwood Academies Trust which operates more than 35 academies in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, said: 'When children participate in a residential visit, they benefit in so many ways.
“Visits increase a child's confidence, develops their independence, aids their social skills and gives them an opportunity to experience an environment different to the one they are familiar with. These are all vital life skills, and it is so important that all children are offered access to visits not just those who have a family that can afford it.”
A report last year by Access Unlimited, a coalition of not-for-profit outdoor education providers, found that half a million children have missed out on a school residential during the pandemic and more than two million households had lived through lockdown without a garden. However, the inequalities of access to the outdoors and green spaces that existed pre-COVID have only been compounded by the pandemic.
Schools which are in the top 10 of most deprived areas and have experienced the greatest growth in child poverty over the past five years, will benefit from YHA’s Christmas fundraising campaign. According to research by Loughborough University4 for the End Child Poverty Coalition, three quarters (75%) of children living in poverty in 2019/20 were in households with at least one working adult; up from two thirds (67%) in 2014/15.
James Blake, Chief Executive of YHA (England & Wales) appealed: “The pandemic has been hard for everyone, however young people living in poverty have truly suffered. They cannot be overlooked by society.
“Together we can make a difference. Your donation will enable YHA to provide children with the least access with a life enriching experience in the outdoors, one that could transform their life immediately and also in the future. Memories of childhood trips last a lifetime, and no child should miss out on this.”
He urged: “Please be the difference for a child, not just for Christmas but for a lifetime.”