'Richard's Bequest', an annual fund gifted to YHA in 1962, has enabled YHA to furnish 46 youth hostels with five popular board games for use by guests in the communal areas.
Richard's Bequest is specifically 'for providing libraries equipment for inside and outside sports and games and tools and materials for handicrafts.' As per the terms of the will which bequeathed the cash gift, the original capital was invested by YHA and each year the dividends and interest earned are reinvested back into the youth hostel network in the form of games, equipment and crafts.
This year the legacy has been invested in sets of Scrabble, Monopoly, draughts, chess and Cluedo, providing an opportunity for some digital downtime for guests who wish to escape their screens during a YHA break.
The investment by YHA in board games follows a national trend in their increasing popularity. Industry experts credit their "tactile appeal and face-to-face interaction" for their rising sales. Industry forecasters predict the global board game market will be worth more than £9bn by 2023.
As well as encouraging communication and bonding, board games have been cited to have some more surprising health benefits, too. Problem solving, information retention and creativity are all things that such games can encourage and that have all been proven to benefit people – particularly the young and old.
Board games have also been shown to play a very important role in child health and brain development, helping children develop logic and reasoning skills, improve critical thinking and boost spatial reasoning.
James Blake, Chief Executive of YHA (England & Wales), explained: “It is through legacies like Richard's Bequest that we can continue to invest in our network beyond bricks and mortar. I very much hope that our guests will use the board games and connect and get to know each other. Board games provide a way to unwind whilst also building positive relationships – rain or shine. In fact, the new board games are an excellent practical representation of one of the original aims of the youth hostelling movement nearly 90 years ago.”
Shared social spaces have been synonymous with youth hostels in England and Wales since 1930. They are designed to be a conduit for guests to meet people, make new friends and bond with family. Since 2014 YHA has invested more than £40 million into its network of hostels, creating modern, comfortable award-winning accommodation with bright and welcoming social spaces.