About Us

The Go Provence team has all the experience needed to run rewarding, fun and safe holidays for adults and children with learning mission statement disabilities.

  • All staff experienced and DBS checked.
  • Staff are First Aid trained to a Red Cross standard, last certified in January 2016.
  • Staff are British and are French speakers.

We have lived in Provence for thirteen years, and in this particular area, the Gorges du Verdon, ten years. We have travelled extensively throughout the region and know it intimately. We are French speakers and are fully integrated into our local community and have a good understanding of local culture. We are registered with the local doctor and nurse and we have access to nearby hospitals.

Mission Statement

Go Provence’s aims to provide non patronising holidays to people who need support on their holiday.  Our holidays are for people with learning disabilities, people with learning difficulties, people with autism and for people who would consider themselves vulnerable.   

We want to improve the holiday and travel experience for our guests by ensuring support is pitched at the least intrusive as possible, whilst remaining safe.  By offering a wide choice of travel and holiday opportunities and by presenting our guests with mainstream culture and activity.

We want our guests to have the opportunity during their holiday to recharge, be inspired and enhance their lives.

Meet the Team

Ian Callen

Ian is the founder and one of the directors of Go Provence. Ian has lived in France for 15 years. He has been a qualified teacher since 2007. Ian knows the region extremely well and spends his spare time climbing, walking and photographing the Gorges du Verdon.  He also presents a fortnightly radio show for local to the area, Radio Verdon, a show that celebrates British music.

Ian worked in at The Olive Tree International School teaching photography, horticulture, conservation, biology and astronomy to children with challenging behaviour. In Bristol, England Ian worked for the Brandon Trust, teaching conservation and horticulture to people with learning disabilities. He lives with his wife, Anna, and three children, Joseph, Jasmine and Poppy, in the Provencal town of Riez.

Ian has a City & Guilds teaching qualification, RHS General and Advanced certificates in horticulture.  Ian is trained in First Aid to British Red Cross Standard (January 2019).  Ian also has training in Epilepsy and Midazolam, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and the Mental Capacity Act.  Ian Callen Profile

Neil Manser

Neil is a co-founder and director of the project and has lived in France for twenty years. Neil worked for several years as a classroom assistant at a Dr. Barnardo Special Needs Primary School in Southborough, Kent. He also worked as an art classroom assistant in another special needs school. Neil was often involved with supported holidays to Wales. Neil was involved with a project in Malaysia supporting adults with learning and physical disabilities. Neil is also the chef and prepares all the meals for Go Provence. When he isn't working for Go Provence he lives near St Tropez on the coast.

Neil has a Primary Certificate in Social Care from West Kent College.  Neil is trained in First Aid to British Red Cross Standard (January 2019). Neil also has training in Epilepsy and Midazolam, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and the Mental Capacity Act.   To see Neil's full profile please click here.

Najla Dabaa

Najla, from Lancashire in England, who has 10 years experience working with people with learning disabilities, people who need support with their mental health and brain injuries in capacities as both support worker and team manager for various organisations, such as Lifeways Community Care, who joined our team in the summer of 2017.  An ambitious art student, who has a BA honours degree in Contemporary Applied Arts, fund raiser and keen netball player.

Najla has a BA Honours Degree in Contemporary Applied Arts, a managers award in Person Centred Planning Training, BSC Managers Award in Supervising Staff & Staff Safety, Signalong FD Course in Adult Learning Disability Core Vocabulary, Award Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, Safeguarding training, Level 2 NVQ in Health and Social Care, City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care and Autism Training.  Full bio here.

John Ryde

John has been married for 42 years and lives in rural Dorset.  He has two grown up daughters and, in the last two years, 3 grandchildren.  The grandchildren keep him fairly busy!  For most of his life he was a secondary school science teacher and in recent years has really enjoyed working for Able2Achieve, a company that runs supported living placements and day provision for adults with learning disabilities and autism.   John has organised and run numerous residential trips as a teacher and youth leader. John and his wife spent 6 years working with refugees and other disadvantaged people in northern Thailand, close to the Burma border.  As part of their role in Thailand they helped to facilitate visiting teams.  John has spent part of the last 4 summers with Go Provence in France and Italy. 

John is also a Governor in a special school in Dorset.  He is the link Governor for Safeguarding and the sixth form.  He spends time in school as a volunteer in the sixth form most weeks.  He has received recent training through Able2Achieve and Governor Services in safeguarding both for children and adults, medicines administration, first aid at work, the mental capacity act, epilepsy, autism and therapeutic behaviour management.  Full Bio here

Christine Espley

Christine has worked as a chef and caterer for thirty-something years. When not working with Go Provence she goes on tour with bands and musical artistes around the UK and Europe. She has owned two restaurants and worked a summer as ship’s cook on the heritage training ship “Svanen “ at the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Bygdøy, Norway. She has spent some years in both Norway and France, and currently lives in London. 
Gardening is a chief hobby, jostling for space with reading, socialising with family and friends, walking, gigs and concerts, music, film and theatre.

Christine has City & Guilds qualifications in Catering for the Hospitality Industry levels 1 & 2; City & Guilds Communications level 2 and Higher Certificate in Food Hygiene and Handling of Food, recently updated to Level 2 Food Hygiene for Catering.  Full Bio Here

Anna Callen

Anna is co-founder and director of Go Provence and has lived in France for ten years. Anna has taught children who have dyslexia and challenging behaviour at The Olive Tree International School. Anna has been a key player and shares the vision of Go Provence. She has a degree in French and Spanish, has worked in the local tourist office and knows our area well.