YHA school trip activities at Castleton, Peak District, Derbyshire.

FREE short breaks at youth hostels in England and Wales are being offered to disadvantaged young people in Salford and Manchester.

The YHA charity’s Challenging Lives programme aims to give children living difficult lives the adventure of a lifetime – from searching for dinosaur fossils, or trying a spot of weaselling to canoeing down a river.

The programme is aimed at eight to 18-year-olds who have recently experienced life threatening medical or mental health conditions, bereavement or homelessness.

Young people living with a disability or medical condition, or those taking on a caring role can also apply.

The Challenging Lives programmes is part of the 87-year-old youth hostelling charity’s work to demonstrate its commitment to improving physical and mental health and wellbeing and developing crucial life skills for young people.

YHA Chief Executive James Blake said: “We know what it is like to paddle in the sea for the first time, to see the city skyline at night or to feel the sand between your toes. At YHA we believe that every child should have these opportunities.

“Giving a young person the opportunity to have a break away from their challenging lives can have a long-lasting positive effect. Research shows it can increase resilience and ability to cope with future challenges, increase health and wellbeing, improve behaviour and school attendance, build life skills and improve future prospects.”

The programme has received support from the Mace Foundation, the charitable company set up to support the charitable endeavours of international consultancy and construction company Mace.

Groups of up to 12 young people have until June 1 to apply for the two-night breaks.

YHA Breaks team, 01629 592 723. email