After five years in the CSR and charity arena, Claire decided to launch her own venture with the aim of supporting sustainable development projects in some of the world’s top holiday destinations.
“Our research shows that the average holiday maker is no longer satisfied to just sit by the pool every day; people want more. They want to participate in activities that add a deeper meaning to their time abroad and have cultural experiences that benefit local people.
“Many people want to help charities while abroad (delete comma) but don’t know where to start. We understand that most people can’t afford to take part in a long-term volunteering placement, however, they do want to do something to help. We provide people with an opportunity to ‘give back’ while only giving up one-day of their holiday.”
Thanks to its structured approach, the Holiday with a Heart programme allows people to overcome the shortcomings of short-term volunteering. Claire said: “People can make a real difference in a short amount of time, however, it is important that their activities are structured and organised so that they can make an impact during the short time they’re there. We work with each charity partner to identify their needs and then create a programme of activities for the day. All require little training so people can get straight to work. By the end of the day, our volunteers feel satisfied in the knowledge that they have achieved something, making it a win-win for the volunteer and the charity, many of whom are in desperate need of the extra resource.”
Holiday with a Heart makes it as easy for people to get involved. A typical experience includes travel, lunch, materials and a friendly Holiday with a Heart representative who will manage the running of the day and will be on hand to provide advice and support if they need it. The relationship between Holiday with a Heart, the holidaymaker and the charity, is managed solely by the local representative. No further contact from the charity with the holidaymaker will be made unless specifically requested.
In each destination the customer can choose to participate in either a “people” or a “planet” project. The “people” projects deliver educational play to children who have little or no access to education. Volunteers are provided with all they need to run a basic English lesson, an arts and crafts session and a sports event during the day. The “planet” projects focus on protecting the environment and animal conservation. Activities range from helping to preserve the biodiversity of the local environments by creating community forests, to providing care for rescued animals. All group sizes match the needs of the charity, but are purposely kept small ranging from 2-12 people.. .
Holiday with a Heart doesn’t stop its charitable support at the volunteer programme. It recently created the Holiday with a Heart Foundation, a charitable trust which supports the wider community at each of its project sites, funding local initiatives which lead local people into more sustainable futures. Claire said: “The Foundation helps to empower the local people through skills training and development. In Gambia, Holiday with a Heart Foundation is funding a project which enables local disadvantaged people to set up and run their own micro business, with all monies raised going towards the advancement of the local community. My vision is that in years to come we will have helped each community get to a point where they no longer need our support and we can move on to help another in need.”
The idea for “Holiday with a Heart” was born out of two hugely successful projects Claire led while working in the corporate sector. In Thailand a small team refurbished an orphanage and n Ecuador a team built a health centre and school in a remote area of Miraflores near the capital of Quito. The project was hailed by local press for its sustainability. After completion the centre was run by local people, for local people.
“There were three big lessons for me in those projects,” Claire said, ”the first was the massive difference a relatively small amount of support can make in some parts of the world. The second was the huge personal growth and enjoyment the participants got from giving something back. The third, sustainability is key.
“Give people the tools and training they need and people develop the independence and confidence to help themselves. We believe our experiences will shape holidays of the future, with people choosing to give one-day of their holiday to make a difference. We are confident that those who choose this option over a day in the desert or at a water park will come back with a glow that’s warmer than any sun tan.”
The price of a Holiday with a Heart experience starts from £99 per adult, with discounts available for larger groups. That includes a donation to the charity partner, the representative, lunch, coordination of activities, transportation and expansion to help more charities in need around the world. At today’s official launch, Claire said: “People can spend between £70 - £280 on excursions while on holiday and we believe many people would prefer to do something that touches lives whilst enabling them to have a ‘real’ cultural experience.”
To learn more visit http://www.holidaywithaheart.com/