Picture the scene. It’s dark, wet and windy, and everybody’s tired. Two adults and their three children are in a field, desperately trying to hammer tent pegs into the ground.
And that became my dad’s task for most of that night. You see, that was my family growing up and, for me, this scene depicts a memory of the school holidays that I’ll never forget.
We would head off camping every summer. I can remember washing up in a bowl that was far too small, rowing across a lake in a dinghy with my dad and just simply having valuable time together away from the busyness of day-to-day life. As I think back, they are such precious, life-changing memories, and I will always treasure them as time spent with my dad and the rest of my family.
The tragedy is that there are children growing up across the UK for whom the holidays aren’t like that at all. It’s only a matter of time for these children – without the help of TLG they could soon fall behind or feel alone.
Each year, the children, young people and families who are helped by TLG are invited to come on a Family Adventure Weekend, and for some of them, it’s the first time they will ever have gone on holiday. It may even be the first time they will have experienced any meaningful time together as a family.
Earlier this month we launched our 2017 Christmas Appeal, asking you to give the greatest gift this Christmas: the gift of a much-needed holiday for struggling families across the UK. For too many children, there are no treats or trips away after school ends. Too many families go without time away together; without the chance to grow closer and create lasting memories.
For many of us, we’re fortunate enough to know what it looks like to escape from the busyness of home life and the stress of work. We are privileged enough to be able to take time out to be with our families. However, according to the Association for Young People’s Health, nearly two million young people aged 10-19 live in the most deprived areas of England. That’s two million young people whose families may not be able to afford to go on holiday.
For the struggling children and families who we help, these holidays really are transformational. It was our Family Adventure Weekend in 2016 when I first met Ruby and Emma. Ruby had struggled in school and was supported by Jo, an Early Intervention coach from a local church. Jo invited Ruby and Emma on the Family Adventure Weekend, and it was that crucial trip away which totally turned their lives around. They were able to enjoy a few days together as a family but, more than that, they were able to explore faith and what it means for their family. Now I get to see them every week at my church.
Without these holidays, the families who we help across the UK might never get vital time away to spend together – something the rest of us take for granted.
So, this Christmas, will you give the greatest gift of all? Will you give a one-off gift and help us to give a transformational holiday to 156 children and families who would otherwise go without?
What you give today could truly make a lifetime of difference.
Tim Morfin is the founder and Chief Executive of TLG. Tim, together with a group of other volunteers from a local church, began TLG by helping young people struggling in school in Bradford. He now leads the organisation nationally, still committed to bringing hope and a future to children and their families. He is married to Rachel and has three teenage sons.