For many families caring for a child with complex disabilities or health needs it can be extremely difficult to contemplate being able to afford or organise a holiday with appropriate care in place. However, a short activity break for your child or a holiday together can be immensely rewarding and can enable your child and your family to build some special memories to treasure.
There are several charities which organise holidays for a seriously ill child, either with their family or on their own with a group of other children/ young people. These are provided in the UK or overseas, and different criteria may apply depending on the scheme.
For some, families can apply directly, whereas others may need a referral from a doctor or a recognised charity. Many of the schemes are open all year round and can be applied for online. These holidays are generally free of charge, fully insured and a medical team with carers is provided to ensure the child’s medical needs are met during the holiday.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and Together for Short Lives does not take responsibility for ensuring that these suggestions will be appropriate for everyone.
You are advised to conduct your own research to ensure that the venue and accommodation is suitable for your own family’s requirements.
You can call our helpline on 0808 8088100 for details of other organisations that can help.
Our Grants and Wishes factsheet also includes details of organisations that provide grants for holidays.
The Children’s Hope Foundation
The Children’s Hope Foundation offers holidays and short breaks for families with children aged 3-17 with special needs for a nominal charge. The charity’s caravan houses up to eight people and is in Camber Sands, East Sussex.
Tel: 020 7700 6855
Donna’s Dream House
A Blackpool-based charity that provides holidays for terminally ill children in a specially adapted house.
Tel: 01253 752222
Heswall Disabled Children’s Holiday Fund
The fund hosts a free week-long summer camp each August for up to 30 boys aged 9-15, from North West England, who have physical disabilities. In addition to the Camp the fund also sponsors children with disabilities for whom their camp is not suitable on other specialist holidays.
Tel: 0300 123 1231
Kids Cancer Charity
(formerly Christian Lewis Trust)
The charity provides a holiday programme for children/ young people with cancer and their families. This ranges from luxury static caravans on specially chosen sites situated on the coast in Wales, where the family can get away from the pressures of hospital and treatment, to resort holidays in both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Paris where they have partners able to provide a unique programme of supervised and special facilities.
Tel: 01792 480500
Situated in South Ayrshire, Whiteleys Retreat provides therapeutic short breaks for children, young people and their families with cancer and life altering illnesses in Scotland.
The Oliver Curd Trust
The Oliver Curd Trust provides free holidays for families with children who have a life-limiting or life-threatening illness. The charity also provides breaks to bereaved families. The charity has two caravans in East Sussex, one in Battle and the other in St. Leonards-on-Sea. Both caravans sleep up to six people and families can take a week’s holiday or an extended weekend at one of them. Do contact the Trust to discuss any access requirements you have.
Tel: 07856 119151
Sebastian’s Action Trust
Sebastian’s Action Trust offers respite holidays to seriously ill children and their families, enabling precious time to be spent together. They provide spaces and places where families can access time together, away from the stresses of hospital and home at The Bluebells, Hampshire and The Woodlands, Berkshire.
Tel: 01256 391854
Youth Cancer Trust
Provides free, fun activity based holidays at the Tracy Ann House in Bournemouth for young people (aged 14 – 30) suffering with cancer or any malignant disease, from anywhere in the UK and the Irish Republic, or who are patients of any UK hospital. Holidays may also be granted for people in remission for up to five years or for those living with the effects of having had cancer as a teenager.
Tel: 01202 763 591
The Calvert Trust
Enables people with disabilities, together with their families and friends, to achieve their potential through the challenge of outside activities. Activities include canoeing, abseiling, swimming or sliding down a zip wire. The Calvert Trust does not charge a fee for their holidays.
Please visit the following websites for a full price list and more information on their centres in Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District.
Lake District: https://calvertlakes.org.uk
The Sandcastle Trust provides grants to families affected by a rare genetic condition for short breaks, special days and annual attraction passes. They also offer support to families who have suffered a bereavement as a result of a rare genetic condition.
Tel: 0207 1998 261
Hannah’s Holiday Appeal
Hannah’s Holiday Appeal provides free breaks away for families of children with cancer and life-limiting illnesses at one of their holiday homes located on Hayling Island and the New Forest. The sites have indoor and outdoor pools, restaurants, arcades, and club houses with great entertainment teams to entertain the whole family. Most importantly, all homes are within a half hour drive from hospital for peace of mind for everyone.
Tel: 023 9226 7899
Barretstown offers free specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families in Ireland and the UK living with a serious illness. Supported behind the scenes by 24-hour on-site medical and nursing care, everything, including accommodation, food and medical assistance are provided at no cost to the family.
Tel: +353 45 864 115
After Umbrage offer free breaks for carers in their holiday cottages outside Bath. This offer is extended to carers within their first year of bereavement too.
Tel: 07812 773 997
Tourism for All UK
Tourism for All UK provides information on travel and leisure for people with disabilities, providing details of where their specific need can be met. Tourism for All UK is a membership organisation (annual subscription £25) that helps people with disabilities find the best holiday to suit them.
Tel: 0845 124 9971