There are an awful lot of places around the UK that offer free holidays and mini breaks for children with cancer and their families. They are often close to major hospitals should the need for a visit arise and the majority are owned or operated by people who have experienced childhood cancer in some way. The aim of these places is often to give families a break away from their own homes and allow them to spend precious time together making memories. They are all UK based as often children on treatment can’t travel abroad simply because the cost of travel insurance is prohibitive, we were quoted over £1000 for a week in Spain for the 4 of us in 2022! If you know of any other UK-based holidays for children with cancer then please do let me know so that I can include them on this list. For details of other charities that help families where a child has been diagnosed with cancer, please check here.
Something like this in-car medical alert seatbelt cover might be handy to have. It includes cards where you can note down details of your child’s diagnosis. This is great just for your own peace of mind.
North of England
Donna’s Dream House – A Blackpool based trust, providing free holiday experiences for children and teenagers with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Ruddi’s Retreat – 4 large static caravans at Primrose Valley Caravan Park at Filey on the east coast of Yorkshire. Families dealing with cancer or life-limiting illnesses and children affected by bereavement can apply to go and stay at this wonderful, happy place for a week. The caravans sleep up to 6 and there’s so much to do to keep the whole family entertained.
Over The Wall – A UK-based charity for children and young people with health challenges and disabilities, and their families, to discover a world of mischief and magic. A place where they can be brave and have fun with others. Camps take place in various high-quality venues across England and Scotland.
East of England
Ben’s Den – The aim of the charity is to support the families of children fighting leukaemia or cancer, by gifting them a free holiday and allowing them to spend much-needed, quality family together away from the overwhelming hospital environment.
Leah’s Lounge – Providing holiday accommodation in a 6-berth static caravan at Haven Seashore, Great Yarmouth, for families who are supporting young people who live in the UK and are suffering from childhood cancer.
London & the South East
The Oliver Curd Trust – Providing holiday accommodation in East Sussex to families affected by childhood cancer and other life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, including those experiencing bereavement. The charity seeks to provide memories, happiness and periods of escape for children and their families during difficult times.
Children With Cancer Fund – Quality time together as a family is one of the things that having cancer often takes away. Mum and Dad are at the hospital with the sick child whilst the siblings are pushed out to Nanny and Granddad or family friends. The charity created a wish list of things; one being a caravan that families could go to and regain a bit of that lost time. A sad occasion brought a legacy that would bring not just hours, but days, weeks and years of joy when they purchased their caravans which are now a free holiday in East Sussex for those that need it most.
Miracles Respite Break Holiday Caravans – The caravans are for families with children undergoing treatment for or recovering from life-threatening diseases and are situated in the Seal Bay Leisure Centre in Selsey, West Sussex. Families need time and space to regroup during and after treatment, so they can focus on their respective roles, they can share time with each other and create new memories together outside of treatment centres and hospitals.
Sail 4 Cancer – Many of their respite trips and short breaks are water-based. From family sailing days across the UK to longer holidays such as cruises, they give families something to look forward to during the most difficult of times. Spending time on the water has many health benefits and is proven to lower stress levels, a major factor in both cancer prevention and recovery. They passionately believe in the therapeutic powers of the marine environment. Based in Petersfield. They can also offer alpine trips to France or Austria with their ski4cancer programme.
Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund – A short break away is often key for the survival of family relationships during the roller-coaster ride of childhood cancer, which is why they can provide free Respite Breaks in Hampshire and spending money for the family. Families can use the time away from hospitals, doctors and treatments to relax, recharge and make some wonderful new memories together.
Eva’s Angels – Providing short breaks in a caravan on the Kent coast, for families who are affected by childhood cancer. The caravan is available for 3-night short breaks from Friday to Monday, and 4-night breaks from Monday to Friday.
Ben’s Retreat – When you stay as a guest in either Bens Den or Bens Retreat you are provided with guest passes so you can access all the facilities at Hoburne Cotswolds: indoor pool, outdoor pool, games arcade, entertainment venue, outdoor play area, indoor soft play, tennis courts, mini golf, bar, café, restaurant, gym, shop, kart hire and pedaloes.
Sophie’s Rainbow Retreat – With accommodation in Poole, Dorset their aim is simple. It is not only the children receiving treatment, but their parents and siblings who find themselves needing to get away from the hospital or home environment. Forgetting about the worries of everyday life even if for only a few short hours or days enables families to spend quality time together and generate fun memories to last a lifetime – even if that life may be cut tragically short.
Hannah’s Holiday Home Appeal – The homes are all truly wonderful and set in great family parks. All homes offer a wonderful variety for the whole family, they all have indoor and outdoor heated pools, play areas, shops, the clubhouse, café, arcades and games areas with fantastic family entertainment-something to cater for everyone’s needs.
Ted’s Shack – A luxury 8-berth holiday home situated on a 5-star resort, which is located within the beautiful Cove of Bowleaze in Weymouth, Dorset. There is plenty to see and do for the whole family such as a fun fair, play parks, water sports (seasonal), walks, cycling, a beach and many other attractions nearby. On-site, there is an indoor swimming pool with slides and a toddler area, an outdoor swimming pool, a play park, an indoor soft play area and a lounge for parents to relax and have a coffee. There is also a gym, health spa, sportsman’s bar, restaurant and nightclub providing evening entertainment. There is also a children’s club called “Boomers”.
Will’s Woodland – A retreat in Devon exclusively for families on a childhood cancer journey. Set in a private 6-acre woodland, this is an opportunity to take a break away from a hospital setting, in safety and seclusion, to find time to just be as a family. When children are undergoing treatment, they’re often neutropenic and susceptible to infection, so finding things to do is particularly tricky. They can spend a lot of time in isolation due to a compromised immune system and never-ending infections. The reality of sitting in a room for weeks is extremely tough for a young child.
Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation – Providing respite accommodation on two Haven campsites in England, one in the New Forest and one in Pagham. The aim is to enable children suffering from life-threatening illnesses to have quality time with their families.
Charlie’s Beach Hut – A beach hut style caravan at Perran Sands in Perranporth which aims to provide families of children with life-limiting illnesses and families of fire-fighters that have suffered bereavement, or life-changing injury whilst in the line of duty, a relaxing environment so they can forge some forever memories, in a hope that they too can ‘Find the Wonderful in Today’.
Youth Cancer Trust – Providing support and free holidays in Bournemouth for young people aged 14 – 30 who understand what it is like to have cancer.
Kids Cancer Charity – Their accommodation ranges from luxury static caravans on specially chosen sites situated on the coast in Wales, where the family can get away from the pressures of hospital and treatment, to resort holidays in both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Paris where they have partners able to provide a unique programme of supervised and special facilities. The aim is to provide memories intended to last for a lifetime.
Calum’s Cabin – They provide holiday homes for children facing cancer. The beautiful accommodation enables breaks away where the whole family can spend quality time making irreplaceable memories and recharging their batteries for what may lie ahead. They provide holiday facilities in stunning surroundings on the Isle of Bute and in Ayrshire. The accommodation also includes flats in Glasgow close to cancer treatment centres which allow families from across Scotland to stay together in welcoming, home-from-home surroundings during extended periods of treatment.
Barretstown – Offering residential camps for children with a serious illness, with a range of adventurous and challenging activities and supported behind the scenes by safe, medical attention and care – always for free. The medically endorsed Therapeutic Recreation programmes at Barretstown, Co Kildare, are all about enabling children & families who are battling serious illnesses like cancer to have fun again. And through that fun, they can begin to repair the damage that the illness has done.
Butlin’s, Centre Parcs & Haven
Family Fund – Family Fund work with a selection of partners in the UK to offer family break grants. Make memories via their friends at Inspire both in the UK and abroad, and enjoy scenic and quiet breaks through Center Parcs, seaside fun with Butlins, or UK-wide breaks in accessible caravans with Haven.