Holiday Schemes

Gateway North East responded to the need of parents of children with a disability and their families by providing holiday schemes in every school holiday. As a group of parents who have struggled with finding appropriate activities for our children at a cost that could be afforded we made a commitment that we would ensure that all school holidays were covered. Our holiday schemes have limited if any funding from local authorities and therefore relies on creative ways of funding to ensure that families can access them.


At Gateway North East we run Holiday Schemes in a number of different locations, ensuring that school holidays are filled with fun excitement but are age appropriate challenging and accredited! The holiday programme allow children and young adults aged reception age- 25 to access a wide range of onsite and offsite activities at various sites (see below). We work to provide leisure opportunities, short breaks and respite for families living with disability and we try to respond to need.

Examples of offsite activities we offer include:                  

  • Horse riding
  • Flow- rider
  • Bowling
  • Shopping trips
  • Theatre trips
  • Day trips to beamish, York, Edinburgh Zoo etc
  • Swimming
  • Crazy golf
  • Soft Play
  • Adventure Valley
  • Cinema Trips
  • Table Tennis

Sample onsite activities we offer include:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Sports
  • Drama
  • Cooking
  • Games

We have qualified Play Leaders sports coaches and carers who run activities for children and young people as well as Assistant Play Leaders, who are young people helping to make the holidays an enjoyable experience for your child.

As young people progress through the holiday schemes they are given opportunity to take part in the focus scheme when they are about 11 years old and are encouraged to wear a green polo shirt, this scheme helps young people to learn skills where they are able to start looking at independence and helping younger children. When they are 14 those who wish to can start our small steps into employment programme where we support them to work and earn money for between 2-25 hours per week during the holidays, during this time they are able to learn life skills and working skills, these are called out Maroon Top Staff. When the young people are 16 years old there is the option of becoming a Red Top still on the small steps programme or they can become part of our stepping out programme which helps to increase independence and life skills. When a young person is 18 and completed all their training they become a Blue Top, Play Leader or Sports Coach.

A minimum of 70% of our staff have a disability or barrier to learning. This shows parents and young people as well as society that young people with a disability or barrier to learning can achieve great things given the right support and encouragement.

Children under 11 can complete Giant Steps Awards- a scheme which accredits children for the activities they have participated in whilst attending our holiday schemes. This works to encourage the children to achieve whilst having fun, and to include them in the environment of personal progression that we have at Gateway North East.


It is really important to us that our Holiday Schemes are accessible. This means that children of different abilities are encouraged to join in the activities alongside their peers, which are arranged in safe environments, encouraging the children to learn and try new things.

We are disability focused but not exclusive so siblings and young children without a disability or barrier to learning are welcome to integrate into the schemes.

We do charge for the holiday schemes, however we never refuse a child on the basis of finance. We are ofsted registered, which means you can claim back 70% of the cost if you are on working tax credits and we encourage parents to fundraise and help us to fund the schemes.

In addition to our holiday schemes, we also run residential trips throughout the year.

If you would like more information regarding our holiday schemes or residentials, please contact us on

0191 526 3112  or                                     

Info on our tops and what they mean:

Blue Tops

  • Minimum age 18
  • Playleaders
  • Have responsibility to teach Red Tops how to behave during holiday schemes.
  • Once you are a Blue Top you can work towards becoming an Assistant Site Manager and Site Manager (which is the highest ranking of blue top).

Red Tops

  • Minimum age 16
  • Assistant Playleaders
  • Part of the Small Steps Programme
  • Working towards becoming a Blue Top (Once they have demonstrated they have acquired the necessary competencies and skills and reached a minimum age of 18).
  • Red Tops will always be supervised by a Blue Top- they will never be left alone with a child.

Maroon Tops

  • Minimum age 14
  • Trainee assistant play leaders
  • Part of Small Steps Programme
  • Able to work between 2-25 hours per week during holidays
  • Get paid- which differentiates them from the children who attend the schemes.
  • Maroon Tops will always be supervised by a Blue Top- they will never be left alone with a child.

Green Tops

  • 11+
  • Are part of the focus scheme which also runs throughout the holiday schemes.
  • Primarily attending the holiday schemes in order to learn life skills.
  • Don’t get paid but are able to work towards Focus Awards.
  • If at the age of 14 they have demonstrated their ability, they can progress to a Maroon Top and onto the Small Steps Programme.