George Young

Senior Media Relations Officer

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25 July 2019

With the school holidays upon us, the annual scramble is on for a plan to keep the kids busy over the summer break.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has conducted research into the UK’s great choice of days out and activities that are free or low-cost and often include a volunteer opportunity.

All are guaranteed to produce satisfied young customers and to top it off, all of them are run by charities.

“School holiday time can be a struggle when it comes to finding that special something that the whole family enjoys,” comments CAF’s Head of Media, Caroline Mallan. “Charity to the rescue is the answer - there is so much out there to see and do and a lot of these ideas will also give children their first taste of what it’s like to volunteer.”

Amongst the thousands of cheap but charitable activities your family can enjoy over the holidays, here are some of our favourite suggestions.


Family volunteering with the National Trust

As their own website states, the National Trust’s volunteering days could see your family clearing up a local beach, helping to conserve the countryside or even donning fancy dress to show visitors how to do chores the Victorian way. Opportunities to volunteer are nationwide.

Transform into a Nature Detective with the Woodland Trust

For parents whose kids are into everything the natural world has to offer, the Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives offering is perfect for the summer break. The Trust gives children a chance to roll up their sleeves and channel their inner Sherlock Holmes, taking a closer look at the ecosystems in our woodlands. The scheme also aims to inspire kids to learn new skills such as building dens and tracking wildlife. The Woodland Trust’s handy website has a volunteering section where you can look through all the latest family friendly options, with events open around the country in July and August.

Hitch a ride on a steam train

With reasonably priced family ticket packages, the Swanage Railway offers an unusual opportunity to step back in time and ride a preserved steam train through the English countryside. Run by a charitable trust, the railway is located in Dorset with easy access from Hampshire and the South of England. Guests can soak up the scenery, learn about how a steam train functions and enjoy a spot of lunch at the on-board restaurant as well. The Swanage Railway is one of several steam trains run by charitable trusts across the country.

Take advantage of the Royal Parks

London’s ten Royal Parks fall under the umbrella of a registered charity, allowing millions of visitors to enjoy the great outdoors every year. As well as a range of volunteering opportunities, this summer there are great family days out which don’t break the bank. Each weekend from June 23rd to September 1st the Regent's Park Bandstand will host free outdoor concerts, for example.

For Peter Pan fans, kids and adults alike can go on a walking tour in Kensington Gardens and experience the magic that inspired J.M. Barrie’s stories. Tickets are just £5 per person and go directly towards supporting the Royal Parks’ upkeep. In Richmond Park, there’s also a Bugtastic Family Fun day that offers a range of bug hunting, storytelling and sensory activities for children with special educational needs or disabilities and their families. Tickets are free and no registration is required.

Help the Canal & River Trust

This charity cares for canals and rivers up and down the UK and it has a wealth of volunteering opportunities for your family to enjoy this summer. Their A Million Hands project is also partnering with the Scouts Association; Chief Scout Bear Grylls is encouraging young Scouts up-and-down the country to get involved this summer in litter-picking and removing plastic waste from the waterways.

Enjoy the best free museums

In London, the Natural History Museum and Science Museum are absolutely free with kids getting up close and personal with dinosaur skeletons, ant colonies, space rockets and much more. Away from the capital, Manchester’s free National Football Museum is a mecca for football mad kids and parents too. Edinburgh’s The Potter Trail is a free magical walking tour of the city, taking in the various locations that inspired the Harry Potter books.

In Torfaen, Wales the Big Pit National Coal Museum doesn’t cost a penny and gives families a chance to don helmets and cap lamps before being lowered 90m below the ground, to learn about what it was like to work in a coal mine. If burrowing underground isn’t your family’s thing and you’re more into the great outdoors, Cornwall’s Roskilly’s Farm is free to enter and has 20 acres of farmland. Families can watch dairy cows being milked, tuck into ice cream made on site and meet all kinds of animals including sheep, pigs, turkeys and goats.

Notes to editors

CAF exists to make giving go further, so that more lives and communities around the world can be transformed.

CAF is a charity and a champion for better giving, and for over 90 years has helped donors, companies, charities and social organisations make a bigger impact. Through CAF Bank, it offers simple and straightforward day-to-day banking, designed exclusively for charities.

We are CAF and we make giving count. 


Press office direct line (24 hours): 03000 123 286
Press office email:

George Young:
Office: 03000 123 715 / Mobile: 07969 296 646

Daniel Slipper:
Office: 03000 123 271 / Mobile: 07986 335 390

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