Flying Start Family Centre day trip to Southend on Sea Ė Travel Journal


Every time a customer books one of our holidays and opts in to our Trip for a Trip scheme, we organise a day trip for a disadvantaged young person somewhere around the world to see their local tourist sites, often for the first time.

Family on pier
Family on pier. Photo by hawkflight1066
Responsible Travel has teamed up with The Family Holiday Association to help with the organisation of some of our UK day trips with organisations from around the country. The Family Holiday Association is the leading national charity dedicated to providing breaks and day trips for families struggling with some of the toughest challenges life can bring.

This trip was run for children at the Flying Start Central, a Neighbourhood Children's Centre in Luton, Bedfordshire. Previously known as Building Blocks Children's Centre, a restructure has resulted in seven children's centres becoming appointed to four neighbourhoods. Flying Start Central serves a community of 5,500 children aged under five years and their families in an area where many families are within the 10 to 20 percent of most deprived nationally. Family support identifies social isolation, low confidence, housing issues, debt, mental health issues and domestic abuse affecting many families.

Journal

Date: 26th July 2018

Who: 52 children aged up to 11 years old (mostly under five) from 30 different families
Where: Southend on Sea, UK

The day started at 8.30am with families gathering excitedly at the gates. Lots had buggies and picnics and discussed the weather not being so good, but were hopeful that it would brighten up as the day went on. There were families from all cultures and backgrounds; Bengali, Pakistani, Polish and English families all standing and chatting together.

The children were especially excited and for some of them this was not only their first experience of travelling on a coach, but also their first experience of the seaside. The children were a mix of ages from babies to 11 year olds. Lots had bought large picnics with them to share on the beach later and had blankets and rugs to sit on. Some families had their grandparents with them to share the excitement and experience of the day. The coach drivers were especially helpful and helped the families with their buggies and luggage. The coaches set off at 9.15am and there was lots of chatter and excitement.

As we drove to Southend we could hear parents pointing out different interesting things to their children; children seeing sights for the first time. Some parents commented that this was the first time that the family had been outside of Luton.

By the time we arrived in Southend the rain had cleared and the sun was shining. We arranged a meeting time and place for the families to return to at the end of the day. The families went towards the beach. Some bought buckets and spades. Blankets were put down and picnics came out. Some of the families sat together on the beach sharing their food and drinks with each other. The children were so excited. They immediately took their parents hands and pulled them towards the sea to paddle. Their first experience of the sea and the beach.

Children collected stones in their buckets and had ice creams. Some of the families headed towards the pier and again some had never experienced seeing or walking on a pier. They thought it was amazing that this construction could be built in the water.

The whole day was a success. The weather was perfect for the families to sit and enjoy the scenery and to see their children playing happily on the beach or in the water. We gathered together at the meeting place to return to Luton and several felt sad that it was the end of a lovely day. They also said that seeing how excited the children had been and how good it had made them all feel having a day out together, they would return to the seaside again as a family.

Some commented that it was rare for their dads to be with them during the day and them taking time out of their working day to spend it together was memorable. The return home was quieter with many of the children falling asleep (and parents too) after their day. The sea air had been a welcome change from their homes and town, and the scenery, sea and beach had literally been a welcome change.

Beach
Pier
Southend on Sea beach and pier at sunset. Photos by Brian Adamson and Dammmmian

Impact: Most families agreed that the trip had helped them get along better as a family and encouraged them to spend more time together in the future. As well as giving them happy and lasting memories it also gave some of the parents more confidence to take their children out more often.

Quotes from the day:
Children

"I have never seen anyone fishing before, I would like to fish and I enjoyed playing with sand."

"I loved the lagoon, swimming and building sand castles."

"I never played on a beach before, I made sand castles and ran in the sea."

"My best bit was collecting sea shells."

"I loved the ride on the bus from Luton to Southend on Sea and playing with the sand, going on the slide, going in the water and playing on the rides."

"I ate ice cream and I am very happy."

Parents

"My son liked most the train on the pier and rides and racing cars."

"It was a great experience for all my family."

"The trip has helped me, we got to spend time together as a family and took the most out of it."

"The trip gave the children fun times, the best bit was when we went to the amusement park."

"We enjoyed everything!"

"We didnít have to rely on a pushchair all day, my child played in the sand and explored in new ways."

Family Holiday Association logoAbout our partner organisation: The Family Holiday Association is the leading national charity dedicated to providing breaks and day trips for families struggling with some of the toughest challenges life can bring. It works with thousands of charities, social work departments, housing associations and NHS services who refer families in need of a break. In 2016 it helped over 11,000 children in 5,000 families get a short break or day out within the UK. For the majority of these families it was their first break away together and for over a third it was the first time that the children had visited the beach.

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