What is CHICKS?
CHICKS is a national children's charity providing free respite breaks to disadvantaged children from all over the UK.
We believe every child has the right to make positive childhood memories. A CHICKS break inspires new confidence and gives children the chance to have fun, enjoy new experiences and relax. More than anything, it gives them the chance to just be children.
CHICKS began in 1992, making 2017 our 25th anniversary year! In that time, we have provided over 14,800 children with a much needed break.
This year we need to raise £1.5 million to continue providing our vital breaks. Find out how you can get involved here!
The children we help come from a variety of backgrounds. They might be living in poverty, be young carers, be victims of bullying or abuse, or have been bereaved. The one thing they all have in common is that they could really benefit from a week away from their circumstances.
Children are referred to us by professionals (for example, teachers or social workers) so we can help those who need our support the most.
Each week from February-December, sixteen children come to stay at one of our three retreats (Moorland in Devon, Coastal in Cornwall and Daleside in Derbyshire). Each break is divided into school key stage ages: KS2, aged 8-11, KS3, aged 11-13 and KS4, aged 14-15. The children are accompanied by three fully-trained members of the CHICKS team, and up to six adult volunteers.
The breaks are fun and exciting whilst also providing opportunity for rest and relaxation. The children have the chance to take part in new activities and enjoy new experiences, and we always make the most of the beautiful countryside that surrounds our retreats.
Each week is designed and led by our skilled & energetic team, and is specifically tailored to fit the needs of each group. This means that every break is unique, but each one has elements of:
These elements are designed to engage the children's interests, offering them new experiences and ways of viewing the world. Children are offered challenges within an encouraging and supportive environment but are always given choice.
Our philosophy is that each child that comes to CHICKS is given equal respect regardless of their background or history.
While a week of respite may seem short, CHICKS breaks have a long-lasting impact. Referrers frequently report that children have increased confidence and self-esteem, are more willing to try new activities and have learnt new social skills.
Each child leaves CHICKS with a Memory Bag, containing small mementoes of their break including diaries of the week, photo compilations and certificates. They are also given a freepost envelope so they can write back to us. We reply to every letter we receive and include another freepost envelope so the child can write back again - this means communication can go on for as long as the child wants or needs.
We send every child a birthday card and a few small Christmas presents in the year following the break, making sure they feel valued and cared for.
Children can also return to CHICKS in the following years if they are still subject to the same circumstances, and many come on multiple breaks. This allows us to build trusting relationships with the children, giving them continuity and ensuring they have something exciting to look forward to.
Click below to find out more about each of our retreats.
The Coastal Retreat is located in the village of Tywardreath, close to St Austell on the south coast of Cornwall. Coastal was purchased in 2003, and sits in eight acres of grounds just a mile from the beach.
Moorland was purchased in 2006. The retreat is located in the village of Brentor, close to Tavistock in Devon. Surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Dartmoor, Moorland is also home to CHICKS' head office.
Daleside was purchased at the end of 2014. It's situated just outside the village of Fenny Bently in Derbyshire, and is set in 62 acres of beautiful countryside. The retreat welcomed its first visitors in November 2015 and final renovations were completed during 2017, so Daleside now has the same amazing facilities as our other two retreats.