Making Memories… Giving Hope

Eliza's Story: BBC Radio 4 Appeal

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In our BBC Radio 4 Appeal, presenter Alan Titchmarsh talks about 11-year-old Eliza*, from Basingstoke, who came on a CHICKS break last year. We wanted to tell you her story in more detail...

Eliza lives alone with her mother, who suffers from a number of health problems. One of these is with physical mobility, which means that she cannot walk without support. She also suffers with severe depression. Because of her health difficulties, Eliza’s mum is prone to falls and this is something that Eliza worries about constantly. She doesn’t want to leave her mum alone, and as a consequence, her school attendance has suffered. Eliza also has to help out a lot around the home. Everyday jobs like cooking, cleaning and laundry have become her responsibility.

Eliza’s parents are no longer together, and although she does see her dad, he has struggled with substance abuse in the past, and suffers with his own mental health problems.

The family live in poverty, which means there is no money for days out or holidays. Eliza has said herself that she feels depressed and worries about being bullied.

Eliza was referred to CHICKS by her family support worker, who could see she was clearly in need of a break away from her responsibilities and struggles at home. Eliza visited CHICKS’ Coastal retreat in Cornwall for the week, where she had the chance to have fun and relax with other children. Eliza made lots of friends throughout the week, who commented how kind and friendly she was to them.

The group made the most of the Cornish sunshine, with trips to the beach and walks in the countryside. Her favourite activity was body-boarding, where she relished being bowled over by the waves! A confidence boost came when her new friends picked her as 'Star of the Day' for being so kind. 

After her break, Eliza’s family support worker got back in touch with us to say how much of an impact the break had on her: “She has made a really good start to secondary school, trying out PE which she previously wouldn’t do, and is generally much more confident”.

With increased self-confidence, her week at CHICKS had a really positive impact on Eliza’s quality of life. Giving her a break from all the responsibilities of home gave her the chance to be a child again and she has memories of her trip that she can cherish forever.

I want to support children like Eliza

*Name has been changed to protect identity 

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