Although perhaps not as well known as some of the larger children’s charities, Honeypot focuses less on the campaigning side of children’s rights, and more on providing practical support to both vulnerable children and young carers. Aimed at providing respite and outreach to give vulnerable children a break, the charity looks after the interests of children aged between 5 and 12, across England with a head office in London, and regional centres in the New Forest and Wales.
The main facility offered by Honeypot is Honeypot House, a residential property in the New Forest in Hampshire where children can go for the weekend or longer breaks during the school holidays and forget their everyday responsibilities. While at Honeypot House, the children can meet other children living in similar situations to them, and enjoy the everyday pleasures of childhood such as riding bikes, swimming or playing in the garden. A second respite home has recently been opened in Wales with the aim of providing respite to children in the Midlands and North West of England.
In addition to the respite homes, Honeypot also runs a Playbus scheme, taking a bus packed with toys and games and staffed by people who can provide a positive role model for children. Children who fall under the care of the Honeypot charity receive a Christmas present and can access outreach support when they need it. In order to receive support from Honeypot, children have to be referred by a teacher, social worker or health professional, so part of Honeypot’s work is raising awareness of the charity within these groups and encouraging them to make referrals of children in the first place.
Most children supported by Honeypot are young carers, who often have to help parents or other adults with taking medication, personal care or with practical tasks like cooking or cleaning. Honeypot recognises that young carers can find it difficult to make friends and may never get a break from their responsibilities, except the time when they are in a Honeypot project. Official figures put the number of child carers at around 195,000, but Honeypot think that this figure could be a lot higher in reality, perhaps as high as 700,000. Other children supported by Honeypot may be living in areas of deprivation, homeless or in families with a history or domestic violence.
Keeping Honeypot services running costs over a million pounds a year, and without the high profile of the larger charities operating in this sector, Honeypot has to rely on grassroots fundraising efforts to support its activities. Honeypot encourages supporters to take part in sponsored events like bike rides or runs to raise funds, and gives tips on organising events such as bake sales. Corporate partnerships can also help raise considerable sums, and Honeypot partners with Paperchase to benefit from sales of Christmas cards. One of the organisation’s main events is Bumble’s Big Breakfast, which involves a group of friends or colleagues getting together to share breakfast and raise funds at the same time.