August-September 2018 | Articles

Sunshine days

Sunshine days

What began as a genteel day out to a theme park in Surrey for a handful of disadvantaged children 28 years ago, has fast become a major Rotary activity across the UK with 680,000 youngsters benefiting.

The story of KidsOut is a truly remarkable one.

Back in 1990, Lady Grantchester, head of the Moores family, and the daughter of Sir John Moores, founder of the Liverpool-based Littlewoods football pools and retailing business – suggested to Rotary Kingston in Surrey giving disadvantaged children a day out.

She approached Rotarians Peter Jarvis and Graham Child, a deal was struck and that summer 200 children headed for Thorpe Park thanks to Rotary Kingston and the Kingston Littlewoods store.

It was so successful that Lady Grantchester offered a one-off grant to any Rotary

club willing in future to take part in a similar event on the second Wednesday in June.

KidsOut is a charity started by Rotarians, indeed CEO Gordon Moulds CBE is a Rotarian, and the organisation has three Rotarian trustees.

Overnight, several Rotary clubs around the country joined in as the National Rotary KidsOut Day was born.

It immediately became the biggest single outing for disadvantaged children in the UK, and this June a record-breaking 30,000 youngsters enjoyed a sun-kissed outing to one of scores of attractions.

The idea is to bring a bit of sunshine to children who would not normally be able to have a great day out; those with a physical or mental disability, lack of money, or they live in a refuge.

The day also looks after young carers and siblings with life-threatening conditions.

“As a Rotarian, we talk about our, having ‘A Rotary Moment’, something that we would not experience if we were not in Rotary, and even after my years as a Rotarian, every year KidsOut always brings a tear to my eye,” explained Steve Cartwright, Rotary KidsOut co-ordinator, and a KidsOut trustee.

“You cannot put a price on that!

Since 1990 over 680,000 children have benefitted from a day out to adventure parks, farms and wildlife venues. This summer, 316 Rotary clubs took part in the day at 94 venues.

The biggest was Drayton Manor in Tamworth which, for the past three years, has opened its doors exclusively for KidsOut youngsters – and this June a staggering 5,000 children visited the Staffordshire adventure park.

To be honest, the joy and the look on the children’s faces says it all!”

Other major attractions included Wicksteed Park near Kettering, Whipsnade Zoo and the Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, Legoland near Windsor, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, as well as Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey.

Kingspark School in Dundee was the venue for a string of entertainers including a one-man band, clowns, face-painters, along with football games and film shows.

The Rotary clubs organise the day out, liaising with the venues and schools, and they cover the entry cost as well as food.

The children are transported by the schools, their parents, guardians or carers, and not by the Rotarians.

And unlike other charities, KidsOut is currently able to provide a subsidy of £1 per child, which is paid to the Rotary club, plus a free Rotary KidsOut baseball cap if required.

“Rotary, in partnership with KidsOut, provides an extended opportunity for children, to experience something which ordinarily they would not be able to do,” added Steve.

“Whether on the grounds of disability or personal circumstances.”

“KidsOut themselves also support children to the KidsOut Day, through small family groups living in refuges – in which case a parent usually accompanies the child.

“KidsOut is all about youngsters enjoying themselves, taking part and doing something that most of us take for granted.

“Whilst, as the charity KidsOuts’ name suggests, it is for kids, but we must not forget that it also allows the parent, guardian and carer to also enjoy themselves too.

“To be honest, the joy and the look on the children’s faces says it all!”

Rotarians and Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland continue to be at the heart of KidsOut and the National Day Out, shaping KidsOut into an efficient and effective charity, with just over 92p of every £1 received going directly to provide KidsOut services.

In 1999, KidsOut registered as a charity to comply better with different pieces of legislation, as well as helping organisers negotiate cheaper access to theme parks and opening up new opportunities to reach out to the UK’s most vulnerable children.

In 2007 the charity developed Phyzzpod to benefit children with physical and learning difficulties, and in 2008 it started Toy Box for children relocated due to domestic abuse.

World Stories began in 2010 to support the growing number of children speaking English as an additional language, and in 2012 KidsOut launched Fun Days to support even more vulnerable children with happy memories throughout the year.

By 2015, KidsOut became the only charity nationally to support every child in a Women’s Aid Federation refuge, providing toys, days out, workshops and more.

The next event on the calendar is the Rotary Festive Fun Day on December 4th.  For this event, KidsOut offer a subsidy of £5 per child, including a cap.

There is also an opportunity to get hold of a limited number of free tickets to selected pantomime performances in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham.

 

For more information, contact Steve Cartwright: scartwright1@hotmail.com / 07772 808925

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