Comment: Holidays are a force for good

Philippa Harris, chair of the Family Holiday Association, says the charity has ambitious targets to help more families in need of a break 

I recently joined the Family Holiday Association as chair. I have had a good career in the travel and tourism industry, travelled all over the world and got involved in planning and then hearing about great holidays for customers.

Having moved out of a full-on, full-time role, I thought it time to ‘give something’ back. Sounds corny I know but so true.

I am really looking forward to the challenge of being chair of the charity as I am hoping my business experience, delivering success in travel and tourism companies big and small, will help take the charity to the next level.

The FHA has been a part of the travel and tourism industry since before I joined the industry as a graduate trainee at Thomson Holidays (don’t even begin to try to work out how long ago this was!).

Over the years, it has supported 120,000 children from disadvantaged families by providing simple UK breaks, often to the seaside, allowing them to get away from their everyday concerns.

Because we are in the industry we instinctively know that holidays are important – right from the moment planning starts, the anticipation gives those involved a lift, giving them something positive to look forward to.

Academic research

This is backed up by academic research – spending quality time together in this way results in stronger, healthier and happier families, potentially leading to an improvement in a child’s school attendance, behaviour and ultimately attainment, and the likelihood of the adults engaging with the various support agencies and possible further education and employment.

All this has been done with the help of individuals and companies across the industry donating cash or in kind and/or by getting involved in events such as the London Marathon, RideLondon cycle ride, our Thames Treasure Trail, annual Golf and Regatta, Shades Day and many others – including my recent 1,037-mile cycle trip from the source of the Rhine to the Hook of Holland, for which I need to say many thanks to everyone who got involved in whatever way.

Ambitious target

But nearly five million children in the UK live in families who cannot afford a simple break away – many will never have even been on a day trip let alone a short break. That’s a lot of families.

The FHA has only helped a fraction of these. We would like to do more.

Our target within the next three years is to double the number of families helped – that’s quite ambitious.

And it will reinforce why holidays are a force for the good; building an expectation that all should have access to a break.

And we believe we can do it…with your help.

Get involved

What do we need you to do?

Get involved. Donate money. Donate stock. Join in with the fundraising. Communicate about us. And communicate the reasons behind why we do what we do.

Tell us what you think of what we do at the moment and maybe help us innovate for our future – are there things we could be doing that might push us along towards our objectives faster? Let us know what they are, and then help us deliver them.

It’s a serious subject but there’s no reason why it can’t be fun as well. I really enjoyed my cycle ride, but it was long and there were some days where I was glad to be raising money for the charity as it kept me going.

It was a real achievement for me; something I have never done before. So choose your challenge and let’s get started.