Cornwall LivingIssue #73
Rest and reflection
Introducing CHICKS, a heart-warming charity offering much needed respite for disadvantaged children.
Every year, hundreds of children from across Cornwall and other parts of the UK are welcomed to children’s charity CHICKS’ Coastal Retreat in Tywardreath. With a weekly schedule boasting time for rest and reflection, pasties on the beach, kayaking and surfing, you’d be forgiven for considering their break to be a totally idyllic Cornish holiday. But for the children who visit CHICKS, a week in Tywardreath is not a holiday but a respite break; the chance to escape their responsibilities as young carers, the impact of being bullied or the effects of having been recently bereaved.
“…it’s an opportunity to completely leave behind all of their stresses, pressures and challenges.”
“When they have had the experiences that the children we support have,” explains Head of CHICKS’ Respite Breaks Richard Whitehouse, “space away from that environment is more than a nice thing; it’s an opportunity to completely leave behind all of their stresses, pressures and challenges.”
CHICKS provides free respite breaks for over 800 disadvantaged children from across the UK every year, in Tywardreath and at a second and newly opened retreat in Derbyshire. Every one of CHICKS’ breaks is led by a specially-trained team of Respite Break Leaders (RBLs) who tailor each week to the specific needs of the children. Richard explains: “The RBLs want to create a safe environment, physically and emotionally, and have opportunity to engage with each child. Whether they’ve climbed to the top of a climbing wall ten times, or held the rope for their friends, we want every child to feel they’ve achieved something.”
One of the things Richard has been keen to develop is time for the children to relax and reflect. “We might do this with a picnic on the beach,” he explains, “a camp fire or a walk in the woods. There’s a healing property in the natural environment that allows children to take stock, and once they’re in that space, feel free enough to be creative, imagine and explore.” Unfortunately in 2017 only 49% of children who applied for a place on a CHICKS respite break were able to attend, due to a lack of funding. To help CHICKS say ‘yes’ to more children and give them a chance to explore, imagine and have adventures, please make a donation or find out about volunteering opportunities by visiting the official website.
"...it’s an opportunity to completely leave behind all of their stresses, pressures and challenges.”