Group Leader on children's residential holidays


Free to Be is a growing London based charity supporting children and young people who are struggling with social or emotional difficulties and helps to create lasting change for vulnerable children's emotional health. We are based in London but we are growing and this year is our first year of working with children outside of London! In the Summer of 2020, we are planning on working with children from Birmingham and are looking for Birmingham volunteers to help us to achieve this!

We are an entirely volunteer-run charity, which provides holidays, therapeutic adventures and afterschool activities for children struggling with social or emotional difficulties and other significant disadvantages. Our volunteers work alongside children on our projects, to help them to build confidence, overcome setbacks and feel special and important. Our projects are designed to work for children who might otherwise struggle to find the confidence to be adventurous, who might be too anxious to reach out and make new friends, or who might usually deal with setbacks by becoming angry or upset. We work with schools, housing associations, social services and other organisations to reach some of the most disadvantaged children. We believe that every child deserves to experience joy and adventure within their childhood.

Many of the children we work with grow up feeling rejected, excluded or as if they are ‘failing’. Our work helps children to feel wanted, valued and successful, ultimately changing how they think and feel about themselves. We support children to have adventures, explore the world around them and feel free to be children during their time with us, providing a break from the weight and challenges of complex home lives. Many learn to swim, ride a bike or camp out for the first time and meet adults with backgrounds and perspectives very different from their own. Children come away with memories which last a lifetime. Nature, the outdoors, creative arts, engaging with animals and cooking are key parts of most projects. Some projects focus on respite and providing crucial breaks when children need them the most, others are more specialised and are designed to support the most vulnerable children to believe in themselves and access new experiences. All aim to bring a level of lasting therapeutic benefit and to boost children’s emotional health by building confidence and resilience, nurturing self-esteem and building social skills.

Our projects benefit from several thousand hours of volunteer support each year. We believe volunteers bring unique qualities to our work – their individual passions, creativity and commitment - and that these qualities are, in large part, what makes our work so special.

Our volunteers work with disadvantaged children to rebuild self-esteem, boost resilience and to help explore challenging emotions and ways of managing. We do this via a range of therapeutic adventures and countryside based respite residentials, in all seasons, as well as through creative term-time after school groups. We work using the inherent power of the outdoors, animals, nature and the arts. We believe in childhood, muddy trainers, new challenges, self-expression, and real human relationships. Our aim is to open up a sense of adventure, freedom and possibility for children who are struggling, whatever life's circumstances. Above all, we believe that every child deserves to feel wanted, special and valued and to experience joy and adventure within their childhood. Free To Be is largely volunteer-run and relies on the support of hundreds of like-minded individuals each year.

We're looking for enthusiastic, energetic and motivated volunteers to come on our residential projects during the school holidays (during Easter, Summer and the half-terms) working with some of the most disadvantaged children, to help build confidence, self-esteem and resilience. With the amazing work of our volunteers, children will begin to change their narratives about who they are and what they are capable of, as well as enjoying a memorable and horizon-broadening break from often difficult home circumstances.

Our volunteers will be working with some truly incredible children and helping them have a break and a chance where they can get positive adult support. You will also gain full training in working with children and safeguarding. You’ll gain confidence, make a huge difference to the lives of these children and meet some incredible other like-minded volunteers.

Our projects happen in buildings we hire (usually residential schools or outdoor education centres) in rural locations in the South of England. Unfortunately, we cannot cover travel costs to and from our project site (usually within an hour or so of London, in a rural location), however, we can provide car parking and, if you are coming by train, we can usually collect you from the nearest station. Once you are with us, all food, accommodation and activity costs are all covered by us. We also provide DBS checks for all of our volunteers and free training.