Free to Be is a growing London based charity supporting children and young people who are struggling with social or emotional difficulties, and helping to create lasting change for vulnerable children's emotional health. We are a small (but growing!) charity that has previously just worked with inner city London children, however, in the Summer of 2021 we plan on expanding our work to Birmingham and working with local Birmingham children.
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.
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 London’s 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. Our residential holidays 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 bolster 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.