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Louise's Story

Louise took photos of the scenery to remember her holiday by. Here, we're looking at a grassy field that a little path runs through, there are yellow flowers dotting the long grass in the field, and there are large leafy trees in the distance. It's summer. The sky is a pinky orange, as the sun sets out of shot of the camera.

Just two nights away made all the difference for Louise and her family.

Louise's Story

When Louise, her husband and four children set off to the South Downs, they were very excited indeed. It was their first ever holiday, courtesy of Family Holiday Charity and the YHA project 90, a scheme providing breaks to families in celebration of YHA’s 90th anniversary. 

There’s lots of love in Louise’s household – they call it happy chaos. Louise has a bright, optimistic tone as she talks about her family and life.  The reality though is that while her husband works full time, with 4 kids, there’s not much money to go around beyond the day-to-day essentials. No way to save and survive the day to day.  “If anything else is needed it puts pressure on”  Louise admitted.   

Louise took photos of the scenery to remember her holiday by. Here, we're looking at an orange sunset behind the large rolling hills of the South Downs. In the foreground we can see the silhouettes of leafy summer trees.

Lockdown and the pandemic added a different dynamic and was a mixed blessing.  Everyone loved Dad being at home and around, but there’s no denying home-schooling 4 children was hard work! Financially things were really difficult, and Louise is eternally grateful to the school for helping with food parcels.

Without the food parcels from the school, things would have been really horrendous

The school have been a really strong support for the whole family, and its them that referred them for a break.  “My friend was upset that we could never afford to get away … she couldn’t refer us herself but found the school could” 

“We’ve never been abroad before – the school were shocked” Louise tells us.  “Whenever we used to pass a Premier Inn or anywhere similar, the kids would ask if we could stay – and I had to explain that we couldn’t.  We’ve never stayed overnight anywhere else with the children”.  

And so when Family Holiday Charity offered the family a break at YHA South Downs “I cried, happy tears” Louise recalled “The children cried too, they didn’t believe me at first, then they started to pack straight away and had fun packing their stuff, and kept asking how long til we were going and checking the days”.  The kids wanted to go on the train, but it was too expensive for all of them, so the family went in the car, singing songs along the way.  The family had no idea what to expect – but they managed to pack a lot into their two night stay. 

We were so welcomed, and all the staff made such a fuss

“On the first day, we went to the local area – the castle in Lewes is free.  We had dinner and went to bed.  On the last day we did a day hike in the area, took pictures and watched the sunset.  The staff didn’t mind the children causing happy chaos and were so nice” Louise explained.  “I kept telling the kids that we need to appreciate this moment and the little things because we are so lucky, and we soaked it all up”.  

Louise took photos of the scenery to remember her holiday by. Here, we're standing in front of the stone wall entrance to YHA, looking at the sunset behind the South Downs in the distance. Inbetween are leafy trees and grassy fields, and the sky above is colours of blue, orange and pink as the sun sets.

 

One of the family’s favourite moments was arriving at YHA South Downs as they had no idea what to expect but received the warmest of welcomes, more than they could ever hope. "We felt so comfortable … they didn’t mind the kids running around, my daughter gave one of the staff a hug when we left and was in tears as she didn’t want to leave the lovely staff.   They couldn’t have been more helpful – on the last day we didn’t want to wake the kids for an early breakfast, so the staff made them a bacon bap and croissants to go so they didn’t miss out”.  

One of Louise’s personal favourite moments was after the kids were in bed, watching the Summer Olympics on TV with her husband in the communal area, having an adult conversation, chatting without the chaos of home and a chorus of “why”.

I really enjoyed just not being at home

And now she’s home again, Louise feels brighter and more positive about the future. “As soon as I got home I actually wanted to clean the house, I had so much energy.  I wanted to clean and do the washing and clean the windows and do a bit of decorating”, Louise confided. And it hasn’t stopped there “I have been wondering if I could get a little part time job when my daughter starts school, just to have something for me. My husband works really hard but it’s a low salary and a little part time job might mean we could do more, even go away again”.  

Louise took photos of the scenery to remember her holiday by. Here, we're standing at the bottom of a grassy hill on a white shingle track. The grass is long and speckled with yellow flowers. Further ahead we can see the path bends and there's a little curved bridge. The sky is blue, tinged with pink as the sun sets somewhere out of shot of the camera.

The children have learned a lot too – they are more polite and patient, waiting their turn.  And they have learned to appreciate their food too. “When we were away, we had our food catered for and the children tried more things when they were there.  Now they try more things, and I am not cooking a million different things – its just one meal for us all now, so I am saving money and time as they eat the same meal.  They have realised and appreciate it more”. 

Just two nights away has made all the difference for Louise and her family.  Its an experience she’s keen for them to have again sometime.  “I would 100% go again” she laughs.