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Frequently asked questions

1. What are the criteria? open accordion arrow

Families cannot apply for a break directly. They must be referred by someone working with them in a supporting role (see Q2 'Who can refer?')

We help families with a child or children under the age of 18 and those who care for them - be they parents, grandparents, carers or older siblings.

Short breaks:
Families must be on a low income (household income must be less than £24,000 or relevant means tested benefits).

For most of our breaks families must not have had a holiday in the last four years. Occasionally we are able to provide offers which are suitable for families with more recent holiday experience and this criteria does not apply.

If the family is caring for a disabled child, please see Q10 ‘What about families with a disabled child’

Group trips and days out:

Families must be on a low income*, not be going on holiday this year and be unlikely to afford a day out.

2. Who can refer? open accordion arrow

All families must be referred by someone working with them in a supporting role. This ensures we assist those who most need our help and means the families get the support they need to prepare for their break.

Referrers work or volunteer for a variety of organisations including:

  • Schools
  • Children / Family Services
  • Children’s centres
  • Charities e.g. Barnardo’s, Shelter
  • Refuges and domestic abuse support services
  • Faith groups
  • Housing associations
  • Community health teams

3. What is the role of the referrer? open accordion arrow

The referrer acts as the point of contact throughout the process. As well as submitting the application, referrers should help the family book and prepare for their break, pass on our contribution towards expenses (if applicable) and ensure that feedback is sent in afterwards.

Families who have never been on holiday may not know what to expect so the referrer should be prepared to help the family with:

  • Clarifying holiday expectations and benefits
  • Assisting with booking transport
  • Booking the holiday
  • Preparing for challenges, i.e. managing risk
  • Advising about what to expect on holiday, including how to appropriately make a complaint immediately if something goes wrong
  • Advising/helping to plan the holiday budget and programme.

Referrers should not make an application if they are going to stop working with the family before the break takes place.

Referrers must provide an alternative contact from their organisation on the application form.

4. When is the best time to apply and how long does the process take? open accordion arrow

Short break
We next open for applications for Haven / Butlin's breaks in December 2017 for breaks in 2018 and will remain open until we have allocated all of our breaks. For most of our breaks we normally close for applications in mid-May. The earlier you make an application the better chance it has of being successful. We will notify you with a decision within 6 weeks of application. Breaks take place between mid March and the end of October.

Throughout the year we will have other types of break on offer. We'll email all registered referrers when they come up but it's worth checking the website from time to time to see what's available.

Group trips
Group trip applications can be submitted at any time after 1st November, however this year we only have 2 confirmed deadlines due to budget restrictions (see below).

Applications submitted before 5pm on:Will receive a decision on:For trips taking place before:
31 December 201631 January 201731 December 2017
31 March 201728 April 201731 December 2017

Make sure you have enough time to plan and book the trip after you receive a decision. Do not book or pay for anything before you get a decision as we won’t be able to fund all the applications we receive.

Days Out
Offers will come and go depending on what’s available so make sure you check the website regularly. You should normally get a decision on applications for days out within three weeks.

5. How do I apply and what information do I need from the family? open accordion arrow

Head to the Referrer's Area of this site to submit an application through our website. You will need to register first if this is the first time you have worked with us.

You can download and print a crib sheet with a summary of the information we ask for here.

6. How will I know if my application has been received? open accordion arrow

If you’d like an update on the progress of an application please email us

7. Do you offer breaks abroad? open accordion arrow

No, the breaks we offer are within the UK.

8. What about breaks during term time? open accordion arrow

The majority of families who are referred to us are facing circumstances that many would consider to be exceptional and in exceptional circumstances a headteacher has the discretion to authorise absence during term time on a case by case basis.

Before a break is made, we encourage referrers and families to approach the school to discuss the application. If the family are offered a break and the school does not authorise absence and we receive this in writing from the school (email is fine) then a peak time break may be offered (subject to availability).

Many of our short breaks can be taken Friday-Monday so a child would only miss one day of school.

In 2014, referrers (including teachers and social workers) saw the following benefits in families:

Better able to cope with challenges87%
Broadened horizons, experience new places94%
Gained sense of optimism for future94%
Had the chance to spend quality time together as a family99%
Got a break from stresses at home99%
Raised aspirations82%
Had opportunity for fun and happy memories99%

9. Do you help with travel arrangements? open accordion arrow

We are not able to help with planning or booking travel for families. We often find that travel works best when referrers support families to plan and book tickets. We are normally able to make a contribution towards expenses for families going on short breaks which could go towards travel costs.

Sometimes we receive offers from train or coach operators that could help families have a day out or travel to their short break. Referrers can visit the "Days Out" section of the Referrers Area to see if there is anything currently available.

10. What about families with a disabled child? open accordion arrow

Short breaks
We are set up to help families who would struggle to get a short break from elsewhere.

There are a number of charities and organisations set up to help families with a disabled child get a break. One of the largest of these is the Family Fund. The Family Fund gives grants to low-income families caring for ill or disabled children. They are charity that receive some government funding and are able to give grants for lots of things related to a child’s care needs, including a holiday.

We will only be able to consider an application for a short break if the family is not eligible for a grant from the Family Fund. More information on their eligibility criteria is available on their website at, or contact them for more information at or 01904 621 115.

If you have contacted them and the family is not eligible then you can make an application to us. Please note that if the family has received a grant this year from the Family Fund for something other than a holiday then we can consider an application, provided they meet our other criteria.

Group trips and days out
Families with a disabled child can be referred for these.

11. How do I get more information? open accordion arrow

Email: or call 020 3117 0651.