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Welcome to our new Creative Arts & Progression Worker Sara Turrill!

Sara will be focused developing partnerships with arts and environmental organisations in Bristol, to develop opportunities for Imayla's children, young people and families to get involved in! If you are interested in working with us please contact

If you are interested in volunteering with us please contact Sara: 






Everybody loves a holiday and time away from home – never underestimate the power of getting out of your normal environment and the outdoors as a great way to learn. Before you contact anywhere to book, be clear exactly what it is your group want to do. They’ll probably want a lot of good activities as well as just hanging out and being with each other.

Planning the holiday - This is half the fun and an activity in itself. Try and encourage your group to take as much part in this process as they can - they’ll learn loads, understand more of the responsibilities you are carrying, and will appreciate their break more. Make sure that before you settle on a place, you check with them that it really is the place for your group. Prepare a few key questions relevant to your group that you might like them to answer, such as:

  • ·       Are they used to working with youth groups from different cultures?
  • ·       Can they cater for a variety of cuisines – Halal, etc?
  • ·       How long does it take to drive there in a minibus?
  • ·       Are there other attractions nearby?
  • ·       What is their policy around bad behaviour?

Before you get too far down the planning road, make sure your group understand their responsibilities. Draw up some Behaviour Guidelines with them, encouraging them to suggest their own rules and ways of dealing with bad behaviour – they’ll be much more likely to stick to their own ideas than yours.

The Youth Hostel Association has hostels all around the country. Check their site for details of each and for special packages/offers they may have.

The Independent Hostel Guide (Britain and Europe) is an invaluable guide to cheap places to stay in a group all over the country. Order it from a bookshop or contact The Backpackers Press.

The Outdoor Source Book is a great directory of outdoor education centres, published by Outdoor Learning Services ISBN 1 874637 29 6.

Below are a few ideas of residential and outdoor centres, but for a more expansive list view our ‘Residential Centre List’ which we have compiled.

Brithdir Mawr, near Newport - very inspiring permaculture farm and community, with a converted barn with two lofts and a family room that can sleep 12. Shower/bathroom with solar/wood-heated water, all lighting provided by renewable sources and the sweetest compost toilets you ever will encounter. Situated on a beautiful organic farm with wild flower meadows, woodlands, lake and streams. Visitors can participate in farming or gardening activities if they wish. 10 minutes from a great beach. Good horseriding nearby.

Goblin Combe Environment Centre - campsite and woodland, near Cleve, Congresbury. Kayaking, caving, abseiling, assault courses, orienteering, archery, etc, with package of outdoor activities and environmental education provided over a weekend or a week, including transport if needed. If you want to take under 15s, visit in advance to do a risk assessment (or they will do it for you for a small charge). Sleeps 24 in dormitories or campsite for up to 80 people.

Pinkery, Exmoor National Park - offers amazing opportunities to get closer to nature in one of the UK's most dramatic landscapes. The Exmoor National Park Authority runs a residential centre, the Pinkery Centre, for groups who want a unique location or special experience.  The Head of Centre will be happy to discuss your individual needs and develop programmes that have something for everyone. 

If you are interested in a day visit, or input from their Education Service, contact Education Manager Dave Gurnett - Tel 07970 099117 or Email

For general information on Exmoor National Park visit their website.

Embercombe is a stunning fifty acre site with views over Dartmoor National Park and located next to Haldon Forest near Exeter in Devon. Embercombe is the perfect outdoor classroom where they run a huge range of courses, weekend workshops, festivals and camps, all based around the wildlife habitats, organic gardens, deciduous woodlands and farmland that makes up the beautiful site. It can accommodate up to 50 people in two yurt villages. There is a specially designed yurt with wheelchair access.

Degmo is situated in a secluded Welsh valley surrounded by sheep and cows and far away from roads, houses and street lights. It provides a haven where Somali families, community groups, and all those with an interest in Somali affairs can stay and immerse themselves in the rural cultures of both Somalia and Britain. True to its nomadic roots, Degmo is a seasonal encampment of spacious Aqal Somali style tents, which sleep up to seven adults and there are hot showers and toilets set up nearby. Alongside these are two or more huge circular tents providing fully equipped kitchens and space for relaxation, singing and dancing, talks and discussions. Imayla have helped to organise two trips to Degmo – please visit our Examples of our Work pages for photos and details of these trips.

Farms For City Children  aim to develop the potential of children from urban areas by offering them a week on one of their three farms – in West Wales, North Devon or Gloucestershire. The children get involved in all aspects of farm life through a structured programme of activities ranging from milking and mucking out, lambing and calving, feeding and grooming, to apple pressing and cheese making.  They are guaranteed a warm, friendly environment, home cooking and comfortable accommodation, including classroom, library, quiet room and games room.  The experience relates directly to many areas of the National Curriculum and to vital environmental and conservation issues. They have links with writers and artists, going right back to their Founding President, the late Ted Hughes, and founding Director, Michael Morpurgo.  They believe creative work reinforces learning and have an Artist in Residence scheme.  Can take groups of 36-40 and stay for seven days.

The Magdalen Project at Winsham, Chard provides organic farm-based accommodation for up to 36 people in eight bedrooms; camping also available. Wholesome meals provided where possible from food produced on the farm or locally sourced. Offers activities in bush craft, building shelters, cooking, wild adventure, conservation, team building - courses designed for you if wanted, or use the centre independently.

Cae Mabon nestles at the foot of Elidir Fawr, Snowdonia, in an oak forest clearing by a little river that cascades down to the nearby lake. At the heart of Cae Mabon is a thatched Celtic Roundhouse and circling the Roundhouse are seven elegant natural dwellings – a strawbale Hogan, an oak and slate Longhouse, a cedar log Lodge, a cob Cottage, a redwood Chalet, a hobbit Hut and a cedar Cabin. Together they accommodate up to 30 people. They organise a number of events each year but it can also be hired out privately.

Deanfield Study Centre is run by Bristol City Council in Gloucestershire.

Fairbridge West offers your young people a safe place to take themselves away to. It aims to work with and train demotivated and disadvantaged young people at risk – individuals rather than groups. Offers short structured courses within a longer programme of motivational training which combine non-residential city-based activities with residential outdoor events. Activities can also include helping to crew Fairbridge’s 90-foot sailing ship.

Or try these holiday centres for children:

Barton Camp, Winscombe – Bristol Children’s Help Society provides 7 acres of the Mendips, with pool, dormitories, playing fields, etc. Open all year round, with accommodation for 48 children/young people and 8 staff.

Chicks (Country Holidays for Inner City Kids), near Milton Abbot, Devon. Provides free respite breaks on the Devon-Cornwall border for disadvantaged children aged 8-16 from all over the UK.  Fun-packed week of activities.

Harvest Trust Holidays for Children - Free holidays and transport for groups of 12 children aged 8-12 accompanied by playworkers. Their minibus will transport you to their residential barn in Wales and take you on different trips every day, including the beach. You are responsible for the children and have to self cater. 

The Honeypot Charity offers respite holidays at Honeypot House in the New Forest, Hampshire for severely disadvantaged young children. A ‘family home’ atmosphere with swimming pool, lake, bikes, etc, for 10 children (aged 5-12) for 4 nights/5 days throughout school holiday breaks. Also holidays for teenage parents aged 13-17. If you want to make a referral, contact them for a full holiday schedule - referring organisations are asked to pay a small amount per child per holiday.

Amber exists to help young people (18-30) transform their lives. Residentials cater for people without work, self-esteem or sense of direction. Coming from a life of unemployment, and sometimes homelessness, depression, poor health, petty crime and drug addiction or prison, Amber offers them a safe environment and a chance to make a clean break from the past and to make a firm foundation for a brighter future. Amber offers a temporary home, from which they can learn about the world of employment and further education. More generally, they learn about presenting themselves in a positive light, interacting successfully with others, and maintaining a sense of their own self worth. Residents' creativity is brought out, with outdoor activities as well as art and music workshops etc.  While they are at Amber each resident builds up an extensive folder including their CV, their projects, their letters and their 'creative folio' of arts and music.

Mill on the Brue in Bruton, Somerset provides Outdoor Education and Adventure, including environmental and field studies courses, for schools and youth groups. The courses generally run from Monday to Friday morning or Friday evening to Sunday late afternoon. You can choose from over 50 activities, tasks, games, and projects, and then they will write an individual programme for your stay. If you wish the emphasis can focus on teamwork and reviewing. Additionally the programme can be linked to the National Curriculum with a town or river study. Special needs groups very welcome.

A couple of outdoor centres known to us include Grenville House Brixham, Devon, Skern Lodge Bideford, Devon and Throwleigh Adventure Centre for Young People at Cowley, Exeter.


See also Outdoor activities, Camping, Beaches


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