60,000 children have holidayed thanks to a Leicester charity.
Leicester Children’s Holidays is taking 80 youngsters away to the Norfolk coast in August on its first trips since the pandemic struck, double the number in 2019.
The charity has been running since 1898 and has taken 60,000 children on holiday.
This summer, 36 children from Leicester city will go on holiday, with the rest of the children coming from Enderby, Charnwood, Melton, Oadby and Wigston and Blaby.
Charity manager Nicky Kandola said the children this time needed the holiday more than ever.
She said: “It became apparent as we met with parents and guardians that Covid-19 had had a massive effect on their children’s lives.
“Many of them said one of the key reasons their children needed a break was because of the pandemic.
“It was disappointing not to be able to offer our holidays last summer but we are delighted to take 80 youngsters this time over two weeks. This is nearly double the number we took in 2019.
“We will have ten charity staff members and volunteers with us and, believe me, they can’t wait!”
Nicky and her team have kept in touch with families throughout the Leicester lockdowns.
Nicky said: “The situation has changed again and again for all of us throughout the pandemic but now we have firm dates, it has all been worthwhile.
“I feel for the children, especially those living in close proximity to their families. The holidays we offer really do change their lives and they remember them for always. They’ll have a great time.”
The groups will go to Hilltop Outdoor Centre for a week on August 2 and again on August 16.
The week-long trips are often life-changing for the children who learn about teamwork and challenge themselves with activities at an outdoor centre.
The centre specialises in activities like archery, bush crafts and climbing walls, enjoy a tree top trail and throwing themselves off a ten-metre high air jump. There is always time for a beach trip too.
Leicester Children’s Holidays has revamped its shop unit at Highcross into a colourful and welcoming visitor centre and sells new toys and gift items.
For the first time, the charity has launched a match-funding scheme which allows businesses to team up with schools. The school pays half towards each child’s trip and companies pay the other half, or make a part-payment, with the charity paying the rest.
The visitor centre in Highcross is open Monday to Friday and is next to the Post Office and opposite Zara and has lots of memorabilia from the charity’s 122-year history.
Leicester Children’s Holidays provides free respite breaks for children aged five to 11 who live in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and 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.