Sheffield Charity Celebrates In Style
One of Sheffield’s most inspirational charities, Sheffield Family Holiday Fund (SFHF), celebrated its 40th anniversary last week with over 100 guests attending an event at the University of Sheffield’s Firth Hall.
The event brought together referral partners including Sheffield Young Carers, Family Development Project, Sheffield Women’s Housing Project, along with some of the young families that have benefited from the short breaks and holidays. In addition, it was attended by VIPs including the High Sherriff of Yorkshire, Mrs Julie MacDonald, Rt Hon Lord David Blunkett, the RC Bishop of Hallam and John McDonald - chair of the Family Holiday Association in London.
John Hopkins, chair of the trustees of Sheffield Family Holiday Fund, spoke at the event about how since 1976, Sheffield Family Holiday Fund (SFHF) has helped over 17,000 adults and children in Sheffield to have a break. He explained how these breaks can be anything from a day out in the countryside to a week in a caravan at the seaside. In its anniversary year, John outlined how 1,200 disadvantaged and vulnerable people will benefit from days out to local places of interest and several hundred will experience 5-7 day family holidays, thanks to the charity.
John McDonald, chair of the national Family Holiday Association, explained how in the Sheffield area, approximately 50,000 families in the area don’t get an annual holiday. He also showed a video which demonstrated why family holidays are so essential and how they can have a huge impact on children and parent’s self esteem, confidence, motivation and life chances.
Jack Butterworth, aged 11, had attended a number of Sheffield Family Holiday Fund breaks over the years with his mum Michelle, he said: “I had a great time when we visited Blackpool. It was the first time I had been and it was a good way for me, my mum and my brother to have fun together away from home. The best thing was the rides at the Pleasure Beach.“
Rebecca Gay had attended a number of activities run by the Family Development Project which had received some funding for family days out and activities through SHFH. She said: “I have two children aged 5 and 2 and as a single parent, it’s hard to make ends meet and even going out on a day trip just isn’t affordable. Since I’ve been involved with this project, I’ve started to get my confidence back, my children are much happier and they really enjoy meeting up with the other kids, playing together and going on day trips. I’ve met some great friends here, who have given me lots of support. I’ve recently been able to get back into work and am starting to enjoy my life again, I feel like I have turned a corner.“
John Hopkins, Chair of SFHF, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity to bring together our referrers, some of the families and the organisations and individuals who have supported us over the past four decades. We wanted to show just how much difference holidays and short breaks can make to vulnerable and disadvantaged families and to thank everyone who has helped us over the years. Family holidays and short breaks have never been more important to people’s physical and mental health and well-being and we are looking forward to helping even more local families to benefit this year.“
It is a proven fact that family breaks can help improve childrens’ learning and behaviour at school, also that families who holiday together are more likely to stay together. The cost of sending a family on holiday is between £400 and £500.
Families are referred to SFHF through social services and the council’s children’s service and they are those that are struggling with the challenges in life, including issues of severe and sudden illness in the family, bereavement, disability, mental health and abuse.
SFHF is 100% funded by donations and is run by a board of trustees on a purely voluntary basis. It is administered by the national charity the Family Holiday Association.
For more information visit the website .www.familyholidayassociation.org.uk.