HCPT is a charity that takes children of all abilities and from all backgrounds on a pilgrimage holiday to Lourdes in the south of France. Many HCPT groups are based in the UK, but many now travel from further afield.
Lourdes has a been a place of pilgrimage since 1858. Today, over 5 million people visit the town every year. HCPT began when Dr. Michael Strode first visited in 1951 and saw the potential to organise a pilgrimage for children with disabilities at the school where he worked. HCPT itself was founded in 1956, and revolutionized the way that people with disabilities experienced their pilgrimage.
Dr Michael was not content with letting the children stay in hospitals in the town as was the usual practice at the time. He insisted that they stayed in hotels as honoured guests along with the rest of the people they traveled with. This idea, which promotes a truly shared pilgrimage experience, continues today.
Now, every Easter, over 1,000 children visit Lourdes for the week with HCPT. Volunteer helpers work around the clock to meet the unique needs of each child and make the pilgrimage as fun and fulfilling as possible. The whole trip costs approximately CHF 800 per person – each child’s place is fundraised throughout the year by our helpers. Each group manages its own funds and rely solely on donations and fundraising to sponsor children in their communities, with volunteers paying for their own fare.
HCPT’s Hossana House in Bartés near Lourdes also offers pilgrimage holidays to over 1,500 older children and adults with disabilities each summer.
HCPT is a Catholic charity that is founded on faith and community; its services are open to everybody. Volunteers, children and beneficiaries come from all walks of life, from all faiths and none.