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Magical memories made this summer for families affected by serious crime.

This summer Embrace CVoC facilitated two trips to Disneyland Paris, where a number of families made the most of the opportunity to experience the holiday of a life time.

The families stayed at a PGL children’s activity centre, the beautiful Chateau de Grande Romaine located just 10 miles outside Paris. Here the children took full advantage of the spacious grounds and enjoyed having fun in a safe and secure complex. 

The Chateau provides organised activities for the children to enjoy, such as swimming, crepe making, badminton, zip wire, sensory trail, egg drop, a camp fire with marshmallow toasting, singing, storytelling and so on.  

Comments from parents and guardians included,

We were free to relax at PGL whilst knowing the children were safe and had supervision during planned activities on our trip. ALL the families interacted which made a very friendly experience’ and ‘It was great seeing the children sing round the bonfire.”

Cherished memories were made at Disneyland Paris. Where the families got to spent two days meeting the Disney characters, seeking thrills and riding scary roller coasters, seeing the wonders of Disney with it’s beautiful parades and shows, and most importantly, enjoying time together and making happy family memories.

The final day of the trip included a bus tour around Paris, down the Sienne to see sights such as Notre Dame and the Arc De Triomphe. They enjoyed a picnic lunch beside the Eiffel Tower before heading back to PGL via the Champs De Elysees for more fun and camaraderie.

Group leader Diane Watts, a retired West Yorkshire police officer says, 

“These trips away provide something different to counseling; they allow an opportunity for the whole family to heal. Participants have reported that by being given the chance to go away together, they can begin to feel like a family again” 

All the families on the trips have had to shift their relationships due to the crime, for example grandparents becoming full time carers for their grandchildren, mothers becoming single parents with the other parent convicted and imprisoned. These new roles need time to solidify as the whole family system learns to manage its new shape.

Most importantly, the children and young people can feel safe with their loved ones on a wonderful adventure, have fun and be children again.

When a victim of crime, people feel so alone with their feelings and believe they are different from other people. They often feel shame and isolation, especially if another family member is the perpetrator. Though the families never know from Embrace, the circumstances of what has happened for others to be on the trip, they know that each of them will have experienced something unimaginable. Being a part of such a group is very important therapeutically. It helps people begin to make the journey back to ‘normality’. 

So many of the carers on the trips have said how important it has been to be together, where they know they will not be judged. Friendships have grown, and we know that some families stay in touch with each other.

A family member says, 

“We had quality time as a family that we really needed.  Sharing experiences with other families that have been through the same helped, knowing certain behaviours our child shows/presents are normal for what they’ve been through. Our group leader has gone over and above any expectations we have had. The trip has been planned meticulously and her advice has been brilliant. Her colleagues have also been wonderful. The whole trip has inspired me to want to help fundraise for Embrace so other families may share this experience. Thank you so much.”

The 17 families who went on the Embrace Disney trips this summer are unlikely to forget the special time they spent together. We believe that each young person will have special memories to hold onto to forever and in time we hope this will help them to cope and recover after being victims of serious crime.