Such a lot has happened in the past 15 months

Searching through Google can throw up some interesting results; well, in this instance, for me anyway.

As part of constructing a brief for our work in Scotland I happened across a YouTube clip of me speaking at our charity’s 2015 Holidays Matter conference at the Excel Centre in London.  It’s footage I had not seen before.

The conference was held during that year’s World Travel Market and a WTM cameraman appeared and asked what we were doing.  I recall having the microphone thrust into my hand and being asked to talk about the event.

Looking at the video – which is only 15 months old – reminds me of how far we have come in such a short period of time, particularly in our relationship with VisitScotland.

Because shortly after the conference we were invited to partner VisitScotland in their huge ScotSpirit campaign and we also went on to successfully complete the Glasgow pilot programme.

And only last week John Kinnear, our Programme Manager, and I travelled to Glasgow to participate in a VisitScotland roundtable; the aim of which was to discuss how best to take social tourism forward north of the border.  The most significant outcome of the meeting was an agreement to see the essence of the ScotSpirit campaign repeated in 2017 but on a much expanded scale.

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Social tourism in the UK – a short history

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Social tourism, as a term, is not well known in the UK and is even less understood. 

But actually helping people access a break is a long-established practice here; indeed, a recent on-line social tourism survey carried out by the University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter of the not-for-profit sector in England and Wales alone showed that upwards of 600 registered charities provided, as part of the help they offer to people, support with breaks and day trips.

“To give children a holiday in the country does not at once fit them to become either useful workers and desirable members of the community or healthy parents of a new generation, but it affords an admirable stimulus to all manifestations of their physical and moral progress.” The Lancet[1] June 1907

From the Industrial Revolution and well into the first part of last century, the more benevolent factory owners organised holidays for their employees and, even today, some employer and trade union schemes still exist. However, there is no equivalent to be found here in the UK to compare to the social tourism facilities and structures common in mainland Europe. Continue reading

Social tourism is gaining traction in Scotland

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Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs meets with families and business partners involved in the VisitScotland ‘ScotSpirit’ breaks initiative at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Over the past seven years the Family Holiday Association has been actively engaging with organisations in Scotland to promote the benefits of social tourism. There have been roundtable discussions in Edinburgh and Glasgow, debates in the Scottish Parliament, discussions with politicians from the main political parties and joint projects with charities across the country.

Now seventy families facing some of the toughest challenges life can bring will be able to enjoy a day out thanks to a new partnership between VisitScotland, the Family Holiday Association and Scotland’s tourism industry.

The pilot programme was launched at the Glasgow Science Centre by the Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop who recognised the need for everyone to be able to have a holiday particularly people living in difficult circumstances .  I was particularly delighted to be able to meet and thank  Stewart Lorimer, Hilton Worldwide’s General Manager and Jannine Russell from Scotrail for their companies’ generous support and Lee Anthony of One Parent Families Scotland one of the partner organisations.

After an appeal by VisitScotland to visitor attractions, transport companies and other public bodies, over 300 people from disadvantaged backgrounds —including 200 children — will receive a much-needed break this October. Families from the West of Scotland will be among the first in Scotland to take part in the initiative. Continue reading

Social tourism could stimulate the rural economy

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A copy of the charity’s submission can be downloaded here.

The Family Holiday Association has submitted evidence to the UK parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee for their newly launched inquiry into the role of tourism in supporting rural growth in England.

The charity highlighted the recent Department for Work and Pensions’ Households below average income report that asked people with a low household income to indicate the most important activities their circumstances meant that they were forgoing. The top activity by a considerable margin was “a week’s holiday for themselves and their children”. The survey found that 35% of parents wanted to do this and yet could not afford to do so. In addition, the report found that 900,000 pensioners aged 65 and over were in material deprivation in 2014/15 and that 37% of all pensioners wanted to take week’s holiday a year but cannot afford to do so. Again, taking a week’s holiday was top of the list of activities that pensioners in low income households most wanted to do.

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Roundtable on social tourism – April 2016

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Members of the social tourism round table – April 2016

 

The Family Holiday Association is just one of a wealth of organisations in Britain working in the field of social tourism, improving access to breaks for those who cannot normally afford them, for a multitude of reasons.

But uniquely, over the years the Family Holiday Association has acted as a champion of social tourism, supporting research, working with partners and trying to explain both the social and economic value of social tourism.

The charity supported the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Social Tourism report, Giving Britain a Break, that was put together back in 2011 under the auspices of the Chairman, Paul Maynard MP.

We believe it is time to do a further push on social tourism. This was the purpose of the April round table during which we heard from a number of different groups who since 2011 have come on board and done some amazing work.  You can read the report from the meeting in Westminster here.

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Download the Social Tourism Round Table Report

Some of the key issues and actions that were raised are detailed below.

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Our charity partners in the north (of England)

160114RotherhamYesterday I caught the train from London to Rotherham to attend the Rotherham Holiday Aid (RHA) charity’s annual general meeting.

This charity began supporting local families much in the same way as the Family Holiday Association but for most of its history it has been working in a partnership with us in which they use our team to administer the holiday provision for Rotherham families.

We also have a long-standing agreement to match £1 for £1 their local fundraising with money from our funds thereby doubling the money available to provide breaks for struggling families in the town.

During 2015 almost 200 families were supported in Rotherham, over 700 children and parents. Most of the short breaks were in Family Holiday Association caravans at Butlins, Skegness.

Our relationship with like-minded partners is very important and I try to attend the RHA annual meeting in order to give a report on how our work has progressed over the past year and to meet with the RHA committee and their supporters.

Yesterday’s meeting was held in Rotherham Town Hall and was addressed by the current mayor Maggi Clark.  Cllr Clark knows of our work and how important it is but she was brought to tears by a short video of a special trip to Lapland and Father Christmas organized by Thomson Airways for a group of families last December. Continue reading

Thomson helps mark our 40th anniversary with a special gift to 40 families.

Our corporate partner of 25 years Thomson teamed up with the Family Holiday Association to help send 40 families to Lapland for a magical daytrip.

Watch the film Thomson made of this spectacular day

As you know we usually helps struggling families get away for a few days to the British seaside. But Thomson wanted to mark our 40th anniversary with an extra special gift which saw little ones and their parents whisked to a real winter wonderland at the northernmost point of Finland, where reindeers, huskies and elves roam the snow-dusted forests.

On Friday 4th December 150 children and parents spent the day hanging out with Rudolph, Santa and his trusty helpers. Plus, they were joined by special guest and Family Holiday Association ambassador, Alesha Dixon.

Here is Alesha Dixon introducing the video and wishing us all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!

 

 

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Out today – Alesha Dixon’s charity Christmas single 

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY NOW!

Today sees the release of Alesha Dixon’s charity single, People Need Love with proceeds coming to the Family Holiday Association. It has been brokered through our friends at TUI. The video was filmed in Lapland last weekend and features some of the children from the Yorkshire families who went on the TUI organised Lapland Trip.

Forty families were given the chance of a lifetime by TUI to enjoy a day trip to inside the Arctic Circle and visit Kittila in the north of Finland. There the children got to feed reindeer, get pulled by huskies, explore the ice hotel and meet Father Christmas at the Snow Village. And everyone was delighted to discover that Alesha Dixon and her crew were coming with them.  Continue reading

The number of children denied even a simple break has increased by a horrendous 25% to 5 million since 2005.

World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL, London – Holidays Matter Conference. John McDonald, Director Family Holiday Association
World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL, London – Holidays Matter Conference. John McDonald, Director Family Holiday Association

The Holidays Matter network held its annual conference at World Travel Market on Thursday 5 November 2015. My opening remarks cited some recent and eye-opening analysis of Office for National Statistics data by Professor David Gordon.

I would like to welcome you to the 4th annual Holidays Matter Conference here in the centre of one of the world’s largest travel trade exhibitions. An appropriate venue for an organisation that sees the travel industry at the very core of its work.

The Holiday Matters network currently consists of some 20 member organisations. Cumulatively these 20 organisations supported 150,000 people access a break last year with an estimated value of £5m. Although the Family Holiday Association has provided the initial support, we see the network and this conference as independent of the charity. It is a means of bringing like-minded organisations together to allow us share, to learn and to explore new avenues of working. That is the purpose of today. Continue reading