The trip that towers above the rest!

Published 18 Sep 2023

Every summer, Affinity Fostering runs an activity holiday for our children and young people. This year, at the children's request, we returned to Alton Towers for what is the undisputed highlight of the year.

This August, we took a record number of children with us for 3 days and 2 nights of unadulterated fun. 39 children left their foster carers and the familiarity of their homes, set off with Affinity's participation team and threw themselves into all that Alton Towers has to offer.

The children ranged in age from 6 to 17 years old and the trip offered each of them the opportunity to have fun whilst forming important bonds with one another, safe in the knowledge they were being looked after by staff that they know, trust and respect.

The fun-filled, 3-day trip consisted of one day in the splash park followed by 2 days in the theme park, with evenings enjoyed in the hotel's onsite arcade. The 2p machines were definitely a favourite here!

"For the children and young people, it's quite a big deal to be away from your foster carers and the safety of home," says Vicky Sellen, Affinity's Head of Participation and Support. "We always hold a Meet and Greet with the children and the team ahead of the trip so that they can get to know one another and understand what the trip will entail and how it all works – I give a clear message to all our children that this is their holiday, and I want nothing more than for them to have the best time, however, I need them to understand the guidance and boundaries I put in place to ensure they are kept safe and happy.”

Because the children know the team so well, they know that they will have fun, be looked after, and listened to, but they also know where the lines are. It is this relationship between the children and Affinity staff that ensures the children really do have a good time. They know what is needed on their part in order to enjoy the freedom that the trip offers; everyone needs to work together.

"The children were amazing," says Vicky. "They really enjoy the time they spend with us and know how the trip works. We had no issues with any of them despite the size of the cohort! They truly did us proud."


What goes around comes around.

The Affinity Team was made up of 7 adults and included the Participation and Support team Bec, Jen and Jess, headed by Vicky as well as two young adults who had previously attended the event as children themselves. They summarise the significance of this perfectly,

'’It’s such a fantastic opportunity for us to be able to return and be a part of the trips that we once loved as children ourselves, although we are now adults. Affinity will always be a big part of our lives and some of our best memories are the activity holidays. We love reminiscing with Vic about the different holidays we attended when we were younger and remembering the other young people we met; it's a pleasure now to be part of making memories with the current Affinity children and young people- plus, we get to enjoy the rides!!"

This year the team was also lucky enough to be joined by the Principal Social Worker, Laura Lordache. "It's testament to the relationships we have with our children and young people that we have young adults, who have been cared for through Affinity as children, wanting to return and offer other children the positive experiences they've benefited from," says Laura. "They know the holiday inside out, how it runs, the routine of it and of course the positive impact that it has on the children."

For every member of the team, the trip is really something special and seems to embody all that Affinity sets out to achieve with its children and young people.

"The bonds we make with one another are so lovely and really important to us," says Vicky. "That feeling when you arrive home after the trip, filled with a sense of achievement, knowing you have made something special happen for the children and that those memories will shine for years to come."


Up, up, and away!

The rollercoasters certainly have their ups and downs but when it comes to this particular holiday, the Affinity Team, and the children we care for are well and truly on the up and nothing says this better than the words of the children themselves.

"It was AMAZING!!!!!!"

"I felt awkward at first sharing with people I don't know but now I've made really good friends and that has been really good!"

"I rated it a 9 because I enjoyed the holiday and the freedom I got."

"(The holiday) has lots of stuff to do and is fun but we only got 3 days and I could have stayed longer!"


Reflections of Summer

As the sun sets on summer, we at Affinity reflect on the great work we’ve been able to do with our children and young people. The 2023 trip to Alton Towers was the culmination of a summer of celebration as Andy Robins, Director of Affinity explains.

“This year, Affinity's 10th year of successfully empowering and enhancing young lives, has seen us take the largest group of young people we have ever taken to Alton Towers, 39 young people! I'm so proud that we have been able to grow this amazing opportunity, and a huge thank you to all our staff and young people who all played their part in making this one of the most successful trips ever! These residential trips are the biggest events we hold for our young people, and the feedback from our attendees is consistently very positive. The smiles on the faces of all that went illustrate this fact perfectly. It has been another great summer at Affinity, with a record number of young people taking part in our Pot of Gold campaign for all young people in the Affinity family, and with our Affinity 10th Year celebration party, it has truly been a summer to celebrate!”

We’ll be reporting soon on our Pot Of Gold scheme, what the children and young people decided to spend their £120 on and the doubtless fun they had as a result. Watch this space!

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