Cornwall LivingIssue #77
Making a difference
A five-day respite break with children’s charity CHICKS can make a huge difference to a child’s life.
From a beautiful farmhouse in the Cornish village of Tywardreath, children’s charity CHICKS supports hundreds of children to have a break from their home lives. For some children this means a break from full-time caring responsibilities or the chance to heal following the loss of a loved one. For others, five days with CHICKS is a chance to escape the effects of bullying or abuse, or have their first ever holiday; see the sea for the first time, feel what it’s like to catch a wave or taste a marshmallow toasted on an open fire.
“Coming to CHICKS will often give the child that breathing space they need from their difficult circumstances”
Gemma Smith, CHICKS Respite Break Co-ordinator who has been in post for three years, explains: “The reasons for a child being referred to CHICKS can be complex, but those I witness most frequently are down to poverty, caring responsibilities or the impacts of domestic abuse.
“Coming to CHICKS will often give the child that breathing space they need from their difficult circumstances. It gives them the chance to be welcomed into a non-judgmental environment, where they can have the chance to be themselves, have fun and make positive memories.”
While on a break, children are supported by a team of Respite Break Leaders and volunteers who help as the children experience a number of new challenges
and experiences, including horse riding, rock climbing, surfing and making new friends.
Gemma adds: “The professionals who refer a child to CHICKS are very positive about the impact a break can have. A lot comment on how the children have so much more confidence. Teachers, for example, will often say that a child who might previously have been too shy to put their hand up in class will return from CHICKS and stand up in front of everyone to talk about what they did. Others talk about improved behaviour, or how the child talked excitedly about their experience non-stop on their journey home!”
If you know a child who would benefit from a break at CHICKS’ retreats in Cornwall or Derbyshire please contact the charity’s Co-ordination Team who will be happy to discuss the referral process with you in more detail. You can also find out more about the ways to support CHICKS by fundraising or making a donation. More information can be found on the charity’s website.
"Coming to CHICKS will often give the child that breathing space they need from their difficult circumstances"