Each year, as one of our biggest projects, We Love MCR funds therapeutic breaks for Manchester families to stay and learn at the incredible Ghyll Head Outdoor Education & Activity Centre.
For many of them, this will be their first ever family break. For some, it will be their first time out of Manchester. But more importantly, it’s a crucial part of their work to succeed and grow together as individuals and families.
We Love MCR has funded the programme since 2015, covering all accommodation, transport and food costs, and has seen hundreds of Mancunian children and their carers benefit from the family-strengthening residentials in those years. The numbers are thanks to the work put in by the two services who refer families to our offer: Manchester City Council’s Early Help Team, and Big Manchester – a multi-partnership with Barnardo’s as the lead partner.
The stay is full of activities that many participants will never have experienced before, like jumping off high zipwires, building campfires and kayaking in open water on the stunning Lake Windermere. The dedicated Ghyll Head staff push them out of their comfort zone in a supportive environment of their peers, giving them unforgettable memories.
Quotes we’ve received from children's guardians after the event have been powerful, citing the trip as having been the catalyst for positive changes in their family relationships, confidence, and lives as a whole. You can read some of those brilliant snapshots of their experiences on the dedicated Ghyll Head Family Breaks area of our website here.
This year’s trip has just taken place, over August 14th – 16th, with another group of families who came back from the Lake District with new memories and experiences to treasure. This time round we wanted to hear from the staff at Big Manchester, to really get across the value of the trips from the perspective of the people who work with these families and understand them best.
“Thank you for your support, it’s wonderful knowing how much you understand the importance of the Ghyll Head trips for our families. All of our workers have expressed how much they get from the trip, and because of it are able to plan more in-depth support for their families.”
- Amy Leech (Children’s Service Manager at Barnardo’s)
“Thank you to Ghyll Head and We Love MCR’s fantastic workers for being so supportive and accommodating. This offers the opportunity for our families to have new, and in some cases life-changing, experiences. These memories are precious and are important part of their Big Manchester journey as they continue to make positive changes together as a family.”
- Aimee Gilder (Team Manager)
“The Ghyll Head trip has been such an integral part of the work we do at Big Manchester. It’s allowed families to have an opportunity to create memories and connect with each other in a way that would not have been available to them otherwise.
The activities and trip as a whole have allowed families to overcome challenges and fears they might have had around social and emotional situations as well as physical ones. Being able to attend the trip as workers has also been essential to continue supporting parents through modelling and co-regulation in a more hands-on way. Thank you to Ghyll Head & We Love MCR for their continued support of the work we do.”
- Alene Rayamajhi (Family Intervention Worker)
When back home, Big Manchester organises sessions for families to spend time together reflecting on how they implemented skills and any changes they saw during and after the residential. Last year’s families gave the following glowing feedback from their time at Ghyll Head:
Everyone loved the views and being in nature - even having less screen time! They experienced better sleep after activities and being in the fresh air outside of the city, with parents highlighting the space children had to play together in a safe environment.
Children made friends with each other, which inspired the parents seeing positive relationships forming. Older children particularly have stayed in contact since returning and are socialising online.
Parents enjoyed time to reflect with their peers, encouraging each other to attend their support groups when they returned home, feeling positive, and have stayed in contact with each other too!
Parents were able to put into practice skills they’d gained through Big Manchester’s support and felt supported by other parents to continue this.
The support provided by Big Manchester to their families is undeniable, their therapeutic work helps families to stay together and grow. We are delighted that our support with this family breaks programme adds an extra dimension to that work, and adds so much value to these children and their guardian's lives.
We Love MCR will continue funding this unique offer for Manchester families, and we’re looking forward to seeing more positive outcomes for next year's families!