The ‘Caravan of Love’ is set to bring joy for some of Teesside’s least privileged children and their families with short breaks that would normally be beyond their financial reach.
Charitable movement Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation is arranging breaks for some of the most disadvantaged local families after investing £35,000 in an eight-berth luxury caravan near Filey.
The investment, which totals £46,000 when food, furnishings and transport costs are included, is the result of a £700,000 donation from an anonymous benefactor.
The Foundation is now working closely with local charities, community groups and schools to identify families who would most benefit from the facility.
Families from North Ormesby, Park End, Billingham, Norton, Redcar and Hartlepool are among those already looking forward to a break at Reighton Sands Holiday Park.
The fully furnished three-bed caravan features double glazing, central heating and a disability ramp, while the holiday park includes direct access to the beach, an indoor swimming pool, outdoor lazy river, show bar, restaurant, nine-hole golf course, archery, mini golf and kids’ activities.
Mari Dilworth, of charity Grandparents Plus, said: “We’ve had families crying tears of joy when we’ve told them they can go on a short holiday that would otherwise have been beyond their means.
“These are the most disadvantaged families, who’ve never had a break for years and the chances are they could never afford to go away.
“They can’t believe there’s a local charity, backed by amazing Teesside businesses, that cares about them enough to do this. They are just so grateful and overwhelmed.
“I’m so delighted for them and have felt so proud that our two charities have been able to do this for them. Things like this really do change lives.”
Andy Preston, the Philanthropic Foundation’s founder and chairman, said: “We owe our patrons PX Group a big debt of gratitude for introducing us to the anonymous benefactor who has made this and other big projects possible.
“What’s exciting for our organisation is that this is our first permanent piece of social action.
“The support of brilliant local businesses means we’ve helped lots of people in different ways over the years, but this is our first permanent marker for fairness that will allow us to go on doing good for many years to come.
“We’ll be enriching the lives of scores of our least privileged local families and ensuring some of the poorest kids no longer feel left out when everyone talks about their holidays when they go back to school after the summer break.
“The children will gain life experiences – it may even be the first time they have left their hometown or their first visit the seaside.”
The Foundation made the decision to purchase the caravan after being made aware of the number of Teesside families suffering hardship.
Through its School Hardship Fund, supported by local businesses and individual patrons, the charity works with local schools to make small donations towards purchasing items such as coats and beds for some of Teesside’s poorest families.
The Tees businesses who support the Philanthropic Foundation include Erimus Insurance Brokers, Castlegate Shopping Centre, CPD Bodies, Mandale, First Choice Labels, Carter Steel, Bulkhaul, Barclays Middlesbrough, Cool Blue Brand Communications and Charles Clinkard.