Healthy Holidays

IOU Creative Retreat

Healthy Holidays at the IOU Hebden Bridge Hostel

Over July & August, the IOU Hebden Bridge Hostel hosted 27 children on two creative retreats as part of the Healthy Holidays Calderdale holiday activity scheme  

IOU was awarded funding to provide a two day retreat for children aged 10-11 from lower income families who might experience a holiday gap during the summer break, with a programme that combined outdoor forest school activities with learning about healthy eating, creative arts, storytelling and making.

The two retreats, including an overnight stay, were an opportunity for children to experience independence and encourage self confidence away from home. 

The programme was developed working with 6 practitioners and included forest school in the IOU Hostel woods, local walks, yoga,  leaf printing, foraging and taking turns cooking healthy meals for the rest of the group supervised by hostel staff. In the evenings the children relaxed watching wild animal footage filmed overnight around the Hostel woods and took part in interactive storytelling.



Clay sculpting.




Never a dull moment in the kitchen!


Learning to make pizzas.


The pizzas were a hit.


Exploring the natural environment.


Enjoying the local woodland.


Watching camera footage recorded on hidden trail cameras.


Close up view of bird's nests found in the woods.

Interactive story time, and relax!


The experience for the children and staff was overwhelming. Children’s confidence grew from being extremely low on arrival to 100% confident on departing. Yoga, whittling wood, and building fires were favourite activities with some not wanting to leave the yoga class! 100% of the children said that their least favourite activity was ’nothing’!.

“Thank you for giving my daughter the experience, she loved it. We don’t get to do much as she has a severely autistic brother. Xx”


“More please, as many as you can - she loved it ❤”


“I would rate this experience for our child 10 out of 10. I am deeply humbled to see how much he gained from the whole experience. For us, it has made facing new experiences possible. The whole experience has changed his vision of what is possible for him to try.


Joanne Wain IOU’s Executive Director said, “ The IOU Creative Retreat at the Hostel was an incredible success and we felt privileged to introduce young people to the world of IOU.”

Thanks to Healthy Holidays Calderdale, Lisa Bailey, Julie West,  Live Wild, Ursula, Carla Daly, and all of the IOU and Hostel team that made this such a special event.

Sign up to our Newsletter for information about future events at IOU and the Hostel

I have read and accept the privacy policy