HopScotch Children’s Charity works with children in Scotland who may be facing challenging life-circumstances. Many have never been to the countryside or seaside before, and a holiday at Ardvullin provides them with the chance to have a break away from those challenges, in the safe and nurturing environment we provide.
Typically the children who visit Ardvullin have to contend with serious issues in their home environment, including:
Children arrive in groups from their “sending organisation”, along with 3 project workers from that organisation who will care for the group during their respite break and work alongside our own project worker to ensure the children have a fantastic time. For some children simply being on holiday for perhaps the very first time will make this a break to remember, but for others it can be an opportunity to benefit from structure, to develop social skills and to experience basic personal care like being encouraged to wash and brush their teeth regularly.
Our research and the feedback from our visitors demonstrates that the benefits of a respite break with HopScotch can last much longer than the five days children spend with us. Below are some quotes from the children we’ve taken to Ardvullin in the past, and from some of the organisations we have worked with.
“This holiday has increased the childrens’ self-confidence and self-esteem. We saw children overcome their fears about participating in certain activities (horse riding, cable car ride) and go on to thoroughly enjoy the activity and have a sense of achievement. This can only stand them in good stead for the future. The children supported each other when undertaking the activities and there was a real sense of them being a cohesive group and caring for each other. I hope that they can build on the confidence that they gained on this trip and take it into their daily lives and time at school.”
Bingham Community Centre, Edinburgh
As an organisation you know the benefit of residentials like this, both physically and mentally, on a young person’s development. Because the kids live in an area of high unemployment, low family aspirations and low life expectancy, the more these kids get to experience before they leave school, the better the chance it will ignite a spark in them…”
The Smelly Welly Club, Glasgow
“[HopScotch] allows children to have a break and be looked after rather than looking after others. This helps reduce stress, social isolation, encourages creative play without technology. Children learned how to get along with others and how to deal with difficulties positively.”
Edinburgh Young Carers
Mark is aged eight and started attending an HIV support group one year ago. His mum and dad were both HEP C Positive, and his dad was very poorly and had only several months to live. The group provided Mark with emotional support and began pre- bereavement work, supporting him with his father's imminent death. His father died in
April this year and it has been a difficult time for the family.
Mark was chosen for a HopScotch break as he needed respite from all the stresses of his everyday life and all he had been through. He had been looking forward to the holiday. He was quiet on the way up in the minibus, as it was his first time away from home. After his first evening at HopScotch he began to grow in confidence and became more communicative with the staff and his peers. He loved the table football and was constantly asking the staff to take up the challenge of beating him. Mark participated well in all the activities, and his confidence began to grow. He loved the horse riding and talked confidently to the women who ran the stables. He was also able to build up close relationships with his peer group during the week.
Mark had never been away from home before, and he loved being in the countryside and having the freedom to run about outside in a safe and secure environment. He built up relationships with staff and peers, which helped him grow in confidence. He had a lovely encounter on the residential, when he spoke to one of the girls about his dad, what had happened, and how he felt. Then they both sat side by side eating their lollypops! HopScotch holidays are able to facilitate important moments like this.
Mark had been through an emotional time with his mum and sister, because of his father’s illness and subsequent death. The holiday supported all the family to have much needed time and space to reflect on their own pain and sorrow. Taking time out allows for families to have a break and then re-build their relationships once again.
Mark had a week away from the stresses of everyday life. He was able to grow in confidence and self-esteem, and returned to school much happier. The school had been worried about his emotional well-being, but noticed a marked improvement in his attitude and all round development.