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Holidays for Families in Need: UK Policies and Guidelines


The Policy Research Bureau was funded by the Family Holiday Association to undertake a study of UK policies and guidelines which have the potential to help families on a low income take a holiday and pursue leisure activities. The research team has considerable previous experience of conducting literature reviews and qualitative interviews, particularly with regard to social services professionals and policy makers.

The Family Holiday Association is a registered charity working in partnership with others, to promote and provide holiday and recreational activities for families on a low income. It also works to promote research on the value of leisure and recreation to disadvantaged families and increase awareness about their lack of inclusion in the United Kingdom.

Social tourism is defined as the inclusion of families on a low income in holiday and leisure activities. It is widely practised in other European states where governments encourage workers and employers to save for holidays or fund them directly from general taxation. However, in the UK it has not been widely promoted or practised; yet about a third of the population, including a large number of children and families, are still excluded from a holiday, usually because of lack of money.

What did the research focus on?

The research provided the Family Holiday Association with a broad overview of past and current policy and practice of social tourism and provide empirical evidence from professionals on current practice and means of furthering it. It also built upon past research into social tourism conducted by the Policy Research Bureau.

To begin with, it explored past legislation which set out what, for instance, charities and local government could do to promote and practise the inclusion of families on a low income in holiday and leisure activities. It then examined current practices and legislation which encourage it, for example, international law, governmental strategy documents and policies to combat social exclusion, and suggested how policy and practice could be further developed to increase the inclusion of low income families.

The research also sought professionals' views, for example, charity workers and civil servants, on current policies and practice and how social tourism can be made a greater priority in the future.

What did the research involve?

We initially undertook a thorough search on past and current policies and initiatives and all other related and potentially related documents from, for example, charities, voluntary organisations and government departments. The aim was to establish whether explicitly or implicitly, they contained provision for ensuring the inclusion of families on a low income in holiday and leisure activities.

The desk-based research was supported by a small number of telephone and/or face-to-face interviews with key individuals who had an understanding of social tourism e.g. those that worked in government departments, local authorities, charities and social services. The purpose of the interviews was to clarify current policies and explore how they might be extended. For example, we explored how social tourism is being put on the policy agenda and whether it can be incorporated into mainstream policy.

Timescale and final products of the research

The research took five months from November, 2004 until March, 2005. The literature review began in November, 2004. Respondents were contacted and interviews conducted from February 2005. At the end of the research, a report was published and an article in a peer refereed journal was submitted on the basis of the research.

Corlyon, J and La Placa, V (2006). Holidays for Families in Need: Policies and Practice in the UK. London: Family Holiday Association (FHA).
(Available on the web here)

See Publications for further details.

Last updated July 2006