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Kate Winslet: Every child has the right to make memories

Kate Winslet visits UK children's charity Go Beyond
Kate Winslet visits UK children's charity Go Beyond

As I find myself turning left off the steep winding hill above the small town of Par, Cornwall, and I drive through an open farm gate in the top corner of a sloping hillside, I realise I could not have been any less prepared for the little sanctuary of peace, fun, and adventure that lies nestled below.

When the children arrive in a mini bus and are driven to the top of this hillside, their curiosity ignites, pressing their faces to the windows, marvelling at the sight of the vast ocean over the brow. “I can see the sea!” For some of these kids, even though they may live only 30 miles away from it, they have never set foot on the beach.

Go Beyond is a charity that provides not only important childhood experiences for these drastically underprivileged kids, it gives them a chance to make memories that are essential. So I ask our government one question, what is it doing for the children who live in a perpetual cycle of isolation, poverty, stress, and sadly for some, abuse?

Mercifully, people are kind. Were it not for the phenomenal fundraising efforts and monthly donations that Go Beyond receives countrywide, the organisation would not survive. The backbone of this charity relies entirely on the kindness of others and this is what these children feel the moment they walk through its doors.

To say that it is moving would be an understatement. Children tumble into the accommodation barn, racing from room to room, as the small handful of warm-hearted staff watch on, smiling from ear to ear.

Kate (left) is a patron of Go Beyond
Kate (left) is a patron of Go Beyond

Some children are baffled as they are handed tote bags with their names on for their toiletries (yes, some arrive not knowing that you need to brush your teeth twice a day, let alone owning a toothbrush or toothpaste), and their own water bottle also named, and ready for use. Confused, a little boy, nine, asks, “but… how did you know it was me?” As Sharon, team leader, wraps her arm around him with a smile and simply says, “because we’ve been expecting you!”.

Home-cooked food smells waft through the corridors, as the group of 16, aged between 8 and 11, are invited to explore every inch of this welcoming barn conversion.

It is simply arranged with an emphasis on calm, nurturing corners for tucking away into with a Go Beyond Break Leader when they feel overwhelmed or anxious, or for reading books and playing with a toy. Many children need to take a minute in the modest ‘safe space’ room. A place where they can sit and write their worries down in a book, share their anxieties with one of the team, and most importantly, feel heard.

In one corner, there is a collection of donated soft toys, piled up to create a small mountain. The children can choose one to keep and take home at the end of their stay. After a day or two, many are clutching a new fluffy friend close to their chest. For some of these children, the opportunity to have a break away from home is simply something their parents can’t afford. One little girl, 10, is missing her mummy, but is comforted with a cuddle and the mention of a swimming trip after lunch.

There are no screens or internet on a Go Beyond break – instead the children play games and explore the countryside
There are no screens or internet on a Go Beyond break – instead the children play games and explore the countryside - Tommy Hatwell

There is a play barn, a games barn, a trampoline and a hang-out room. Each space is filled with donated books, art supplies, dressing up costumes, Lego, board games. The kids run from room to room, as though they have arrived in Disneyland. Some are tentative and almost don’t understand that they are allowed to play and join in, others throw themselves into the experience as though it were like stepping into a funfair where all the rides and candy floss are free!

There is also a clothes cupboard. Many children arrive in only the clothes they are wearing and carrying a small day bag. They are merrily taken to pick out a pair of wellies, a rain jacket, underwear, swimming costume… every moment being made to feel like it’s just another activity, which the children embrace as part of the easy routine.

These children are given a gateway to another side of themselves that they may never get to discover at any other time in their lives. They laugh, they climb trees, they join in with team games, an experience that for some feels frightening at first, but with their delicate handling, the gentle staff will gradually help that child to either join in or to open up and share why they are finding it tricky. Sure enough, by the end of each week, the most guarded of children will have revealed a bit more about life at home and can be better supported by the staff. To see the shyest of children break into a smile, or just lift their eyes from the floor and make eye contact with an adult, does bring a lump to one’s throat.

A week at the Go Beyond centre gives children a taste of all kinds of activities
A week at the Go Beyond centre gives children a taste of all kinds of activities - Tommy Hatwell

The most touching moment of each week is when the children have to say goodbye and return to whatever the four walls of home bring them. Often they cry; they don’t want to leave. They all make their beds, (something they are taught on arrival) and pack their things away into those bags with their names on, stuffing in art projects, and the aforementioned cuddly toy.

There is one final treat, a gift cupboard that they are welcomed into so that they may choose a toy to take home, as a prize for being tidy, or helping with the washing up, or for being a good sport. This small cupboard is like a mini toy shop. Donations line the shelves, from the smallest items at the bottom to large items higher up. I am told that most of the children choose something small – a bouncy ball, or a pen. I ask, “Why don’t they go for a bigger item?” Sharon tells me, “Because they’ve never had big things, so they assume those ones aren’t for them.”

She also tells me that often the girls will choose a small bottle of nail varnish, telling her, “This is for my mummy.”

So young, and yet so painfully aware that at home they have nothing. Their generosity apparent, the desire to make their parent smile being the most profound thing they are taking home with them.

In short, were it not for this charity and its wide open arms, the children who come here may never have the chance to run freely, climb, dig, have three hot meals cooked for them each day, to swim in the sea, to play with the sand on a wild windswept beach, to learn to laugh with other children, to feel accepted, to feel equal, to feel noticed, to feel adventurous.

These are the children for whom we can do so much more in our country. Go Beyond deserves and needs every donated penny they can get their hands on, to give these marginalised children an experience they will cherish, and memories that will last them a lifetime.


Go Beyond: a charity that offers simple joyful moments for children with complex lives

By Michele Farmer, CEO, Go Beyond

Many of us were lucky enough to have a childhood where fun times were taken for granted. Many of us can recall our holidays. They don’t need to be luxurious – a day out at the beach, the feel of the sand in your toes, laughing and splashing in the waves. You will know the joy of muddy knees, picking an apple from a tree, drinking ginger beer by the river. You will remember spotting cloud animals and sharing your hopes and dreams.

Without us, many children don’t get the chance to run, play and laugh outdoors. They don’t know the anticipation of new adventures, new foods, new friends. They don’t have the memories, the dog-eared photos to treasure or the confidence to try new things. Those are the memories we are helping to create for children who otherwise might never get the chance. These are the things we remember when we become adults.

When children arrive at one of our two sites, in Cornwall or the Peak District, they find acres of fields to run in. There are no screens, no internet – this is a low-tech, old-fashioned holiday. In a small group of no more than 16 children, they play games, explore the countryside, go on long walks, have trips out to try something special like rock climbing or ice skating. And at the end of the day, they eat proper home-cooked food, sitting around the table together.

'We offer simple, joyful moments for children with complex lives', says Go Beyond's CEO, Michele Farmer
'We offer simple, joyful moments for children with complex lives', says Go Beyond's CEO, Michele Farmer - Tommy Hatwell

The simplicity of what Go Beyond offers is what attracted me to the charity. We offer simple, joyful moments for children with complex lives.

Our breaks are thoughtful and well designed, led by skilled and passionate staff and supported by many volunteers. Our activities are carefully designed to help build resilience, and confidence. We help children to make new friends, try something new and learn to speak up for themselves. Go Beyond is all about doing things differently, pushing yourself, and, quite simply, going beyond: goals, ambitions, and what you originally thought possible.

Over the course of this year, we will have provided a week of happiness like this for over 800 children. These are children who, through no fault of their own, simply don’t have the same chances as other children. They are children who care for their ill mums and dads, worry about where their next meal will come from, or fall behind at school and struggle to make friends. Almost every child is eligible for pupil premium and free school meals. The charity started out supporting children from inner cities, but poverty is everywhere and many of the children who now come to use live in coastal and rural communities too

Life is tough for some children and sadly, that will always be the case, but we know we can use your generous donations to bring a bit of sunshine and help create memories that will live on forever.


Go Beyond is one of four charities supported by this year’s Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal. The others are Marie Curie, Race Against Dementia and the RAF Benevolent Fund. To make a donation, please visit telegraph.co.uk/2023appeal or call 0151 284 1927

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