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Free holidays for struggling families

Written by: Emma Lunn
Families struggling financially, or facing illness, isolation or bereavement, will have an opportunity for a weekend break thanks to a new government fund.

The £600,000 ‘England for Everyone’ fund, created by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in association with Family Holiday Charity and VisitEngland, will provide holidays and trips for more than 800 families facing difficult times.

The Family Holiday Charity will use the funding to arrange trips for families and will aim to support parents, carers, and young people experiencing difficult times to get away.

Families who may never have had a holiday can be referred to the charity for a weekend trip and will have a choice of where in England they will visit.

Referees could include people such as social workers and teachers. Holiday vouchers would be provided to help cover transport, accommodation and food.

Nigel Huddleston, tourism minister, said: “Holidays provide a vital opportunity for people to reset, spend quality time together and improve their mental wellbeing. But for many families taking a break can be impossible.

“Following the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are helping families facing particularly tough times to have a much-needed break while supporting our brilliant tourism and hospitality sector.”

Research by Family Holiday Charity has shown that short breaks can have huge benefits, with 85% of families finding children who had a break were going to school more regularly and 84% saying children were less isolated and getting more involved in their community since returning home.

Kat Lee, chief executive of Family Holiday Charity, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with DCMS and VisitEngland on this social tourism project that will see more than 800 families able to access a holiday. Access to a holiday is simply out of reach for many UK families, but this scheme will see children, mums, dads and carers able to take a holiday, some for the first time ever.

“Holidays bring wellbeing and mental health benefits, and the opportunity to try new things and think differently. On holiday families make memories that help when times get tough. And families who have experienced a Family Holiday Charity break are more confident, better able to engage with learning and play a more active part in their communities.”

Each trip provided by the fund will be worth up to £450, including accommodation, with allowances towards travel and food.

Holidays may be taken at any time for families with pre-school age children. For those will school-age children, trips will need to be taken during school holidays before 5 June encompassing either the February half-term, the Easter holidays or the Jubilee Bank Holiday and summer half-term.

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