Youth charity YHA (England and Wales) has announced a new support programme targeted at young people and children who live in the most deprived areas of the UK.

YHA Edale

YHA chief executive, James Blake, has spearheaded the launch of the Challenging Places Support Programme as part of his aim to put the 87-year-old youth hostelling charity back on the map as a ‘leading national charity for young people’.

He explained: “We are sharpening our focus to be clearer about the contribution we make to improving physical and mental health and wellbeing, and developing crucial life skills.

“Whether it is staying away from home, or seeing the countryside or the sea for the first time; meeting new people in our social spaces; or trying new activities and experiences, we want young people to go home happier, healthier and more confident than when they arrived.”   

Free accommodation opportunities

YHA’s Challenging Places Support Programme provides up to two nights’ free accommodation and food at a Youth Hostel for specialist youth groups located in areas of high deprivation and severe poverty.

Education groups located in areas of deprivation and poverty are all eligible to apply for the two night stay and meals in a Youth Hostel in England and Wales.

This experience is targeted at young people aged eight to 18 who haven’t experienced a trip away before.

The development of YHA’s support programmes has been driven by independent research which has shown that one in four children live in poverty; one in ten are living with a mental health problem; and over two million children never experience a break from their challenging lives.

“At YHA we strongly believe that where you go changes who you become,” said James Blake. “Our research shows that giving young people the opportunity to enjoy a break at a Youth Hostel will have a positive effect on their mental and physical health and wellbeing as well as giving them new skills for life.”

For details of qualifying areas and to make an application visit

You can read more about the importance of the positive effects of learning outside the classroom on pupils from all backgrounds in a feature from the December edition of School Travel Organiser magazine here.