Do you remember going on holiday as a child? What is your favourite memory and where did you go and who with? Holiday memories are something that live long and we recall with great fondness and laughter as years go by.
Remember that leaky caravan in Wales, or the huge ice cream in Cornwall. Can you recall the first time you flew and where to – was it Spain and you were 10 years old?
For many of our children and young people going on holiday is a new experience and as a foster carer you get to help them build those memories and see the delight on a young person’s face as they see the sea for the first time, build a sandcastle, ride on a roller coaster or board an aircraft.
Can I take my young person away?
Wherever possible, foster carers are encouraged to take young people on holiday with them. Permission will be needed from the Local Authority and in some cases parents and for that reason nothing should be booked until that permission is granted.
How can I prepare them?
Surprises generally don’t work well for young people who are looked after, so preparation is key. Let them know where you are going and when, where you’ll be staying and have some input into what you might do while there. Have a calendar that they can cross the days off on, involve them in buying new clothes and packing their suitcase and most of all let them get excited. Plan an activity to do on your return so that they know they are coming back with you.
When you get there
Don’t be upset if they act as if they don’t like it, it’s probably just overwhelming for them. Take things slowly and don’t try to do too much all in one day. Remember lots of drinks and plenty of sun cream, that rule applies to all the family. Take lots of photos, and try new things. Activities that may seem ordinary or unexciting to you may be the one thing your young person has always dreamt of doing.
When you get home
Get your photos made into a photo book, something your young person can treasure for ever. You may want to make a scrap book with them putting in mementoes of your trip, such as tickets, postcards, shells and other things they wish to keep.
Finally, be happy and proud that you have helped a young person build memories, experience new things and whatever happens next carry those things with them for the rest of their lives.