YHA offers free breaks to disadvantaged youngsters

Date published: 06 March 2018

Disadvantaged young people in Rochdale are being given the opportunity to experience travel and adventure with a free short break thanks to youth charity YHA (England and Wales).

As part of the charity’s new Challenging Lives breaks programme, a two-night stay at one of the charity’s youth hostels in England and Wales is being offered.

The Challenging Lives programme aims to give children living difficult lives the adventure of a lifetime, from searching for dinosaur fossils or trying a spot of weaselling to canoeing down a river.

The programme is aimed at eight to 18-year-olds who have recently experienced life threatening medical or mental health conditions, bereavement or homelessness. Or young people living with a disability or medical condition, or those taking on a caring role.

Research has shown that more than two million children miss out on a break from their difficult lives because the challenges of daily life are too great.

Underpinned by YHA’s ethos that ‘where you go changes who you become’, a break away for children to experience some life changing moments and discover new talents can have a hugely positive impact on mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Challenging Lives follows the recent launches of the Educational Support and Family Breaks programmes, both of which provide either free or financially supported stays in a youth hostel in England and Wales.

The programmes are all part of the 87-year-old youth hostelling charity’s work to demonstrate its commitment to improving physical and mental health and wellbeing and developing crucial life skills for young people.

YHA Chief Executive James Blake said: “We know what it is like to paddle in the sea for the first time, to see the city skyline at night or to feel the sand between your toes. At YHA we believe that every child should have these opportunities.

“Giving a young person the opportunity to have a break away from their challenging lives can have a long-lasting positive effect. Research shows it can increase resilience and ability to cope with future challenges, increase health and wellbeing, improve behaviour and school attendance, build life skills and improve future prospects.”

The Challenging Lives programme has received support from the Mace Foundation, the charitable company set up to support the charitable endeavours of international consultancy and construction company Mace. The charity is focused on increasing the support the company offers to disadvantaged people and communities where Mace makes an impact.

Isabel McAllister, Mace’s Director of Sustainability and Mace Foundation Trustee said “We’re proud to say we’ve been transforming young people’s lives through travel, adventure and discovery thanks to our partnership with YHA. We’ve been able to support young people with extremely challenging lives experience the outdoors, learn about themselves which will in turn help them grow into happier, healthier and more successful adults.”

Applications for Challenging Lives opens on 1 March 2018 until 1 June 2018 for groups of up to 12 young people and includes accommodation for a maximum of two nights and a food package

All the youth hostels available within the programme are located within city, rural and coastal areas.

To apply for a YHA Challenging Lives break visit

For help to complete the application or for any queries please contact the YHA Breaks team on 01629 592 723 or by an email at

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.