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 amazing memories to treasure.
There are several charities which organise special 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 individual’s medical needs are met during the holiday.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and you can call our Together for Families Helpline on 0808 8088 100 for details of other organisations that can help.
Our Grants and Wishes factsheet also includes details of organisations that provide grants for holidays.
Birchington Convalescent Benefit Fund
The fund is used to help disadvantaged children under the age of 18 to have a ‘change of air’ whilst they are recovering from an illness or suffering from a long-term illness. The grants are modest and rarely given for expensive overseas holidays. An application must be supported by a recognised body, such as social services, a doctor or a charity. Grant decisions are made in February, April and June.
Tel: 01923 235 111
Birmingham PHAB Camps
Birmingham PHAB Camps is a small, totally voluntary, organisation whose aim is to encourage the integration of disabled and able-bodied children and young people. They arrange holidays for groups of 20 or so people, in various age groups, during July and August. They also arrange holidays for groups of children who have severe multiple disabilities. Volunteer helpers staff the holidays.
Tel: 07812 384265
The Children’s Hope Foundation
The Children’s Hope Foundation offers free holidays and short breaks for families with children aged 3-17 with special needs The charity’s caravan houses up to eight people and is in Camber Sands, East Sussex.
Tel: 020 7700 6855
Destination Florida organises one week holidays for children between the ages of 7-15 who live in the North of England and have an illness. A full medical team is present, enabling the children to be given their normal medical treatment whilst enjoying the holiday.
Tel: 0161 789 7788
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.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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 we have partners able to provide a unique programme of supervised and special activities.
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 the UK.
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. Families can enjoy a week’s holiday or an extended weekend at one of the charity’s caravans.
Sebastian’s Action Trust
Sebastian’s Action Trust has created a purpose-built facility that offers respite holidays to seriously ill children and their families, enabling precious time to be spent together. Their house, called The Bluebells, has been built in the pretty Hampshire village of North Waltham. Holidays are mainly provided for families living in the South East of England
Tel: 01256 391854
Youth Cancer Trust
Provides free, fun activity based holidays 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 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 charge a fee for their holidays. For a full price list and more information on their centres in Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District please do visit their website.
The SandCastle Trust provide grants to families affected by a rare genetic condition for short breaks, special days and annual attraction passes. Also offer support to families who have suffered a bereavement as a result of a rare genetic condition.
Tel: 01737 559 317
Hannahs Holiday Appeal
Hannahs 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, 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 in their holiday cottage outside Bath. This offer is extended to carers within their first year of bereavement too.
Contact information is available through a form on their website
Over the Wall
Over the Wall are a national charity that supports children and young people facing serious health challenges through transformational residential camps in communities across the UK.
Tel: +44 (0)2392477110
Tourism for All UK
Tourism for All UK provides information on travel and leisure for people with disabilities, providing details of where their specific needs 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
Many children’s hospices and other children’s palliative care providers organise special breaks and activities – for details of services local to you, contact our Together for Families Helpline on 0808 8088 100