Friendships, memories and life skills were made at Demelza’s residential trip for siblings last week when brothers and sisters of children cared for by Demelza, were invited to an action-packed two night stay at Kingswood Adventure and Activity Park at Grosvenor Hall in Ashford.
Throughout the three days, the group of 10 and 11-year-olds faced their fears and supported each other as they tackled a number of exhilarating outdoor challenges; including a high adrenaline 3G swing, trampolining sport Aeroball and a 10ft pole climb. The level of involvement was completely up to the children who could either tackle the challenges with gung-ho attitude, or cheer on others from the side-line.
The impact of COVID-19 on siblings
For many of the 13 children, the residential trip was their first time away from their homes in Kent, South East London and East Sussex since the start of the pandemic.
Emma Sweetlove, Demelza’s Family Events Lead, said: “COVID-19 has put an enormous strain on the families we support; particularly for siblings who have had to shield alongside a brother or sister living with a serious or terminal condition.
“Many of the children are transitioning from primary to secondary school and the trip has undoubtedly helped to build their confidence and social skills. They were all so brave when doing the challenges and it was wonderful to see their confidence soar; especially amongst some of the quieter ones.
“One of the children described the trip as an opportunity of a lifetime. We can’t wait to start planning our next one.”
The trip gave the children time to connect with others in a similar position to themselves, and many strong bonds were forged throughout the group. New friends Darcie, 10, and Pearl, 11, tackled ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ together which required team work and communication;
Pearl said: “Jacob’s Ladder was scary! But we are very good friends and a double act. I hope we stay in touch.
“Climbing has been the best and I want all of the high ropes in my back garden. If I did, I would never go back to my device!”
Demelza hopes to plan another sibling residential trip which, thanks to the enthusiasm of the children and a team of incredible volunteers, was a huge success.
Want to find out more about how Demelza supports siblings?
You can find out more about the support Demelza offers to children with serious or terminal conditions and their families on our Sibling Support page, or our How We Help page.