The most touching moment of each week is when the children have to say goodbye and return to whatever the four walls of home bring them. Often they cry; they don’t want to leave. They all make their beds, (something they are taught on arrival) and pack their things away into those bags with their names on, stuffing in art projects, and the aforementioned cuddly toy.
There is one final treat, a gift cupboard that they are welcomed into so that they may choose a toy to take home, as a prize for being tidy, or helping with the washing up, or for being a good sport. This small cupboard is like a mini toy shop. Donations line the shelves, from the smallest items at the bottom to large items higher up. I am told that most of the children choose something small – a bouncy ball, or a pen. I ask, “Why don’t they go for a bigger item?” Sharon tells me, “Because they’ve never had big things, so they assume those ones aren’t for them.”
She also tells me that often the girls will choose a small bottle of nail varnish, telling her, “This is for my mummy.”
So young, and yet so painfully aware that at home they have nothing. Their generosity apparent, the desire to make their parent smile being the most profound thing they are taking home with them.
In short, were it not for this charity and its wide open arms, the children who come here may never have the chance to run freely, climb, dig, have three hot meals cooked for them each day, to swim in the sea, to play with the sand on a wild windswept beach, to learn to laugh with other children, to feel accepted, to feel equal, to feel noticed, to feel adventurous.
These are the children for whom we can do so much more in our country. Go Beyond deserves and needs every donated penny they can get their hands on, to give these marginalised children an experience they will cherish, and memories that will last them a lifetime.
Go Beyond: a charity that offers simple joyful moments for children with complex lives
By Michele Farmer, CEO, Go Beyond
Many of us were lucky enough to have a childhood where fun times were taken for granted. Many of us can recall our holidays. They don’t need to be luxurious – a day out at the beach, the feel of the sand in your toes, laughing and splashing in the waves. You will know the joy of muddy knees, picking an apple from a tree, drinking ginger beer by the river. You will remember spotting cloud animals and sharing your hopes and dreams.
Without us, many children don’t get the chance to run, play and laugh outdoors. They don’t know the anticipation of new adventures, new foods, new friends. They don’t have the memories, the dog-eared photos to treasure or the confidence to try new things. Those are the memories we are helping to create for children who otherwise might never get the chance. These are the things we remember when we become adults.
When children arrive at one of our two sites, in Cornwall or the Peak District, they find acres of fields to run in. There are no screens, no internet – this is a low-tech, old-fashioned holiday. In a small group of no more than 16 children, they play games, explore the countryside, go on long walks, have trips out to try something special like rock climbing or ice skating. And at the end of the day, they eat proper home-cooked food, sitting around the table together.