A charity which takes disadvantaged youngsters on holiday is appealing to the government for a change in the rules on social distancing at outdoor centres.
Leicester Children’s Holidays chair Parvez Bhatty has written to Edward Argar MP to call for him to push for the change.
Parvez thinks that the risks associated with children going back to school are similar to those affecting the charity’s breaks to outdoor centres.
This summer, 85 vulnerable children from across Leicestershire missed out on holidays with the charity. Three of them live in Syston.
Parvez said: “Even during the height of the pandemic this year, children of key workers continued to be taught in school classrooms, albeit with social distancing measures in place. There is a forgotten group of children in our region who are having a tough time right now. These are vulnerable and disadvantaged youngsters who, since 1898, are the kind of children our charity has helped. For the last few years they have been going to an excellent outdoor centre where they are helped to realise their own potential, work together as a team and have fun. The rules on social distancing in residential centres meant we were unable to take 85 youngsters on holiday this summer. We need the decision to be made this autumn so we can start organising our trips from next spring.”
It is the first time since 1945 the charity’s holidays have not gone ahead. During both world wars, troops on coastal defence duties stayed at the charity’s original holiday centre in Mablethorpe.
Parvez said: “If the government relaxed these restrictions and allowed risk-assessed residential activities, our charity and others could help change these youngsters’ lives for the better. Our holidays give the children a chance to get back on track with their lives, enjoy an outdoor adventure and give their parents a break too. Social distancing can still be observed. These children were disadvantaged before Covid-19 struck and after a summer of inactivity, they need an outdoor break. Opening schools and residential centres go hand in hand and both are vital to children’s wellbeing. The government needs to plan ahead now to get measures in place to support these forgotten children.”
A petition has been set up to persuade the government to consider allowing youngsters to go on outdoor trips.
Leicester Children’s Holidays provides free respite breaks for children who live in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and may face difficult circumstances at home. The youngsters may live in a low-income family, have suffered a bereavement, be a child carer looking after a parent or sibling, or need a break for a host of other reasons. The charity has been running since 1898 and taken 60,000 children on holiday.