West Sussex outdoor activity centre thanks supporters for lifeline during pandemic

A West Sussex outdoor activity centre has thanked its supporters for providing it with a lifeline during the pandemic.

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 11:43 am
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Lodge Hill, a not-for-profit charity based near Pulborough, had to suspend operations at the start of lockdown with only a handful of staff continuing to work to keep the site ticking over.

This was only possible due to support from trusts, foundations, organisations and individuals who have contributed to its core costs.

With Lodge Hill now Covid secure, the site has now partially reopened, offering outdoor activities and one-on-one sessions for young people who need extra support.

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Lisa May, chief executive officer, is encouraging schools and other organisations to contact them about day activities, but she also wants clarity from the government about when they might be able to offer residential stays again.

With activity centres unable to apply for most government support schemes, Lodge Hill would welcome additional support to ‘keep our heads above water’ until normal service can resume.

Ms May said: “We would not be here if not for the donations that we have received, but I fear for next year if this goes on any longer.”

She described it being ‘incomprehensible for us not to be here for future generations of children and young people’.

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And although it has been ‘amazing to hear laughter in the grounds again’, Ms May is worried about the long-term effects on children being out of education for so long and really felt for the teaching staff in educational settings.

She said residential trips to Lodge Hill are part of the curriculum for a number of nearby schools and were the ‘highlight of the year’ for many pupils.

They were ‘incredibly humbled and beyond grateful’ for all the donations they have received, while staff had received lots of ‘uplifting’ messages of support.

Set in 32 acres of stunning woodland with inclusive facilities, Lodge Hill allows children and young people of all abilities and backgrounds to enjoy challenging outdoor activities during the day.

It also runs its own model ChallengeU Intervention Programme for young people who have or are at risk of offending, or who have disengaged with society and/or education.

With an ‘amazing staff’ team who are ‘so committed and dedicated to what we do’, Ms May described how they see some ‘incredibly shy and very cautious’ children and young people ‘flourish and develop’ with feedback from teachers and organisations often highlighting the difference Lodge Hill’s activities makes.

For information about activities and bookings at Lodge Hill visit its website.