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Hello and welcome to February’s newsletter. Just like the weather, it’s a delightfully mixed bag this month. Join us as we take a spin around the network and enjoy all that’s going on in support of our mission to change young lives for the better. We hope you’ll take plenty of inspiration and find new and fulfilling ways to make the most of being part of the YHA family. In this month of Valentine’s Day, we’re feeling the love.

The best of Britain’s breathing spaces

Did you catch The Guardian piece about hostelling in the national parks a few weeks ago? It was a great read with information on where to go, what to do and – most importantly for us – where to stay. This year,
Campaign for National Parks marks its 70th birthday and we look forward to hosting the celebration event at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall. Look out for further features on the event and national parks-themed travel tips in
our upcoming spring guide. Until then, check out The Guardian’s write
up: ‘Peaks and Downs: the best family friendly breaks in national parks.’

YHA Activity Holidays

Membership brings you early access to the best adventures. Before we launch YHA Activity Holidays to the general public, we’re offering you first dibs. So, if you like action-packed holidays, book a break at one of our unique activity centres and bag yourself a breath-taking, heart-pumping adventure.

Get away for an unforgettable weekend with an all-inclusive two-night stay from £120 per person or make the most of the school holidays with a full board, four-night break from £225 per person.

YHA EdalePeak adventures
YHA Okehamptonfind out moor
YHA LlanddeusantWales of a time

Spontaneity, from £29 per night

If you’re looking for a last-minute getaway at low cost, look no further. We have late availability at some of our most popular spots. Private rooms are available from just £29 per night, Sunday to Thursday. So, take a look around and pick your perfect property from our list of drop-everything-and-pack-a-bag destinations. Lets go!

Membership is changing

Earlier this month we emailed you about the upcoming changes to YHA membership and what these changes will mean for you. If you haven’t read that email yet, please be sure to familiarise yourself with the new scheme. The greatest difference you’re likely to notice is the new member discount.

From 5th March 2019 you’ll be eligible for 10% off your whole booking instead of the current (up to) £3 off per member per night discount. We are delighted that, on the whole, the changes have met with approval from our members. We’re grateful for all messages of support and generous donations as we move to make YHA membership fit for purpose and relevant to supporters now and in the future.

Sharing your memories

If you’ve been with us a while, you may know the old joke amongst members was that YHA stood for ‘Your Husband Assured’. Many a marriage has flourished from courtships that first bloomed in the common rooms and social spaces of various YHAs. Here’s one such story.

On his first trip with West Birmingham local YHA group, travelling from St Briavels Castle to Chepstow, another guest caught John Edwards’ eye: “I noticed a pretty girl with long hair called Carol. She’d been with the group a while. Later, when we both attended the spring bank holiday camp in Anglesey, we went swimming in the sea and I asked if she’d go out with me. Our first date was to the cinema a week later. We wed in October 1972 and have been married 46 years. YHA has been a huge part of our lives and we enjoyed two or three weekends away every month until our son was born in May 1981.”

Mr and Mrs Edwards recently attended a special members event at YHA Stratford-upon-Avon to learn more about the charity today. As a result, they very kindly made a donation – adding that they would never have met if it weren’t for YHA. If you’re interested in attending a similar event this year, please take a look at our calendar. And if you have your own story to tell, we’d love to hear from you so please do get in touch.

Go go logo

Endurance athlete and YHA ambassador Alex Staniforth is raising awareness and funds for YHA by running this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon as our logo. Sustaining an injury late last year, Alex was out of action for a while. The time out brought home how easy it is to take opportunities for outdoor activity for granted. Some of Alex’s struggles resurfaced, including mental health issues: depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. While returning to fitness, Alex resolved to make the 2019 London Marathon about changing young lives rather than minutes and seconds. He’s therefore hoping to draw attention to YHA as a charity determined to provide young people with opportunities to grow through travel and adventure.

We’ll be following Alex every step of the way. If you’d like to find out more about Alex’s challenge and cheer him on through sponsorship, please visit his JustGiving page.

A quick reminder

If you’re inspired to achieve a sporting feat or looking forward to baking cakes for a summer fete, we’d really value any money you could fundraise for us in the process. You can now download our free fundraising pack to assist you in your efforts.

Working with young job seekers

This month YHA Conwy welcomed a group of young claimants and Jobcentre Plus staff to tour the hostel and find out about work and volunteering opportunities with us. This was the first of many visits around the hostel network. YHA continues to develop its partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to create opportunities for young people to gain skills and employment with us.

Hostel staff were delighted to receive a lovely thank you note following the visit.

“I just wanted to say a thank you to Mathew and Ursula for yesterday. The feedback from those on the tour was fantastic. Your passion for your job shone through and a number of claimants wished to apply for opportunities straight away. For the young people from Isallt, the local homeless unit, to come along and see opportunities available to them when they feel particularly disadvantaged was great to see and hopefully we will be able develop a fruitful relationship, making a real difference to the lives of these young people.”

Reducing single-use plastic

As part of our environmental efforts, we’ve set ourselves the ambitious target of eliminating single-use plastic bottles from the hostel network. To achieve this, we began installing water refilling stations in four trial sites last October. The locations were chosen on the basis that, combined, they host 20% of all our group stays annually. With guests now able to fill up their own reusable bottles for free, we can cut demand by 100,000 single-use bottles per year. And that’s just from four sites. We’re now looking to roll out the refilling stations to a further thirteen hostels and need your help. Please vote for our project to win a grant from this year’s Hostelling International Sustainability Fund.

Voting only takes a few moments. You can find out more about the project here and vote online until 5pm on 20th April 2019. Thank you.

Written by Ruby Higton

Here is Ruby and she is a digital marketer at YHA. She looks after all things social media, as well as content writing for and SEO. Her favourite YHA is YHA Perranporth.

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