An introduction to Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation – Supporting young travellers since 2002
Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation is a UK registered charity based in York. The charity provides travel and safety information primarily for young travellers who are planning a gap year or any kind of independent travel.
At the end of 2001, Caroline Ann Stuttle and a friend decided to travel to Australia on a gap year before starting university. They were both extremely excited as they began their adventures celebrating Christmas and New Year in Sydney. In April 2002, they found themselves in Bundaberg, a small town halfway up the east coast. One evening, Caroline was walking back to campsite where they were staying and crossed over the Burnett bridge. A man stopped her, wanting her belongings and there was a struggle. She was thrown off the bridge to her death. An unbelievable and heart wrenching tragedy. Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation was founded in Caroline’s memory by Marjorie Marks-Stuttle and Richard Stuttle in 2002.
I am Caroline’s brother and have being lucky enough to travel extensively, from working winter seasons in the French Alps to spending two years travelling around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. For our charity, we had to understand the different opportunities and travelling adventures that were out there for people, how people chose to travel and what inspires them to explore our world.
In 2012 the charity celebrated its 10-year anniversary, a beautiful service was held in York Minister to celebrate Caroline’s life. To mark this milestone the charity developed the ‘Safer Travel’ app. The app offers comprehensive city specific information for over 350 destinations, its free to download for Apple and Android devices. The app allows users to download the information in small files sizes to their phone so that the information can also be accessed offline. One of our current projects is taking our database of information, reverifying and transferring all content to www.safertravel.org, so anyone can access this important information when they need it the most.
As the charity evolved, we began to focus on education, providing comprehensive travel and safety advice. This advice led to presentation in schools, colleges and universities providing risk assessments and awareness strategies along with travelling anecdotes from experienced travellers. We recruited experienced travellers to speak directly to students, inspiring them as to what adventures are open to them as well as pointing out the risks and best practice. Find out more
As COVID-19 took over the world in 2020, travel experiences ground to a halt. We all went into lockdown and could only dream of travelling. We created our Safer Travel Talk podcast series, where we could still get excited about travel, engage with young travellers and talk in-depth about travelling experiences. We also recorded our presentations in bite size chunks so travellers could learn risk assessments, awareness strategies and better understand the mindset needed to become a traveller.
I have been asked many times over the years, what are your top safety tips to keep safe whilst travelling? I have thought about this very deeply, we developed a three-step system called K.A.R. – Knowledge, Awareness and Response.
Knowledge – research is key, the more you know about a destination the safer you are. Before any travelling experience, ask yourself questions like, if I lose my passport; what do I do? Where do I go? Who do I ask? Knowing what to do in these types of situation will ensure your stress levels remain low if something does occur.
Awareness – nobody can be fully aware all the time, it is impossible. What we can do as travellers is ensure that you are fully aware at the right times. In busy places, on transport and at certain times of the day. Increasing your awareness in the right moments means you will be able to spot potential hazards earlier, which can dramatically reduce risk.
Response – how you respond to people in certain situations can significantly change the outcome. Understanding people’s intensions is key and means you can respond appropriately. Ultimately, if someone wants to take your belongings and threatens your life, just let them go or walk away if possible. Nothing is worth more than your life.
Our charity has always adopted a positive outlook towards travel, a motto of “follow your dreams” has rung true since the beginning. Travel can broaden horizons and give people a taste of what’s out there in the world. Although what happened to Caroline was utterly devastating, we take comfort in the fact that she had the confidence to step foot into the world and go for what she wanted. Her legacy now is to inspire others and hopefully her story will help other young travellers consider their safety every step of the way.