Family Caravan Holiday Project
A story by Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme
Glasgow Children’s Holiday Scheme provided holidays to disadvantaged children and families across greater Glasgow. We did this primarily through a week long holiday at 1 of our 5 holiday caravans but also by enabling youth activity breaks and through host family holidays.
What Family Caravan Holiday Project did
The children generally live in areas of deprivation across Greater Glasgow and all are affected by poverty or disadvantage with families in receipt of benefits and/or on low incomes. Families are referred to us by a range of statutory and voluntary organisations that know and work with the families. The Holiday Scheme has built effective working relationships with referrers over the years and we aim to target our provision to those who would benefit the most.
The scheme focuses on giving children and their families or carers the holiday they need and would not get without our assistance - children in poverty, with disabilities and families suffering from domestic abuse and family breakdowns. A holiday is something many of us take for granted but for many other children it is something they miss out on. Our holidays give children the opportunity to get away from their day to day environment, experience new things and help provide happy memories.
In 2017 we enabled 444 children and young people, 191 families and 361 adults to get a break. This included, 98 children with a disability, 39 with multiple care needs, 75 children affected by domestic violence, 34 children on the autism spectrum, 21 families affected by bereavement, 76 single parents, 36 young carers,
35 kinship carers, 69 adults with mental health issues, 31 adults with a physical disability, 13 families, 25 adults and 34 children from minority communities.
Of the 444 children and young people 7 went on holiday with 5 of our host families, 48 went to our caravan for an activity based break with their youth group and 389 went with their families/carers to our caravans for a week’s holiday.
The Holiday Scheme only operates thanks to a range of volunteer support including our Trustees, fund raisers, escorts and individuals and companies who help with our cleaning and preparation days at our caravans. During 2017, we were also able to purchase a new replacement caravan at Wemyss Bay Holiday Park.
What Glasgow Children's Holiday Scheme has learned
Each year the experiences and feedback we receive reinforces the need for what we do and the need for affordable and accessible breaks for all. Better Beaks funding is important recognising the role we can play within the broader short breaks agenda as well as confirming our commitment to being open and accessible to all who may benefit from what we can offer.
We continue to encourage and promote applications from a range of statutory and voluntary organisations and work with them to enable our provision to those children and families who would most benefit. Within our resources we will continue to look at ways we can improve and adapt.
For 2018 this includes the provision of shorter breaks as well as week long breaks, purchase of additional holiday capacity at peak school holiday periods and the promotion of applications from families with pre-school children only for the more difficult to fill holiday periods such as the period after the school summer holidays.
Disabled children and young people, especially those with multiple support needs, will have more opportunities to take part in activities which are fun, stimulating and rewarding.
During 2017 we enabled 98 children with a disability, 39 with multiple care needs, to get a break at one of our caravans at Wemyss Bay Holiday Park. This was primarily through a week long break and included free access to on-site entertainment and leisure facilities.
A family of 4 enjoyed a week at one of our caravans in July. The eldest child has autism and the youngest has a development delay. Mum commented that it was just fantastic to get away from daily pressures and a range of appointments. We did things for the first time and enjoyed many lovely experiences. The kids went on their first boat trip, enjoyed visiting and playing on the beach and marvelled at the jellyfish sightings! They just enjoyed the safety and freedom to play outside, something they often cannot do at home. On their return they had lovely memories to look back on and talk about and it provided a boost for the day to day return to routine.
Carers of disabled children and young people (and those they care for) will have improved well-being.
Parents and carers feedback to us regularly about the benefit of a break. We seek to ensure that the main carer has support while on holiday whether that be a spouse, partner, another family member or friend. This ensures support as well as allowing the main carer some free time and opportunity to relax and get some individual respite.
One mum said she had a fabulous time and the best sleep in a year and a half! She was able to relax for the first time in a while. She had support during the break and enjoyed time with her autistic son as well as some time to think and her own time. There was enough to do on site but it was not overwhelming – her son didn’t use his iPad for the whole week;
Carers will have more opportunities to live a life outside of caring .
By providing 191 families and 361 adults to get a holiday or break, the Holiday Scheme enables parents and carers time away from their home environment and daily routines. It provides an opportunity outside caring with their family but also for time to themselves whether that be the opportunity for a quiet coffee and book, a walk or a meal. Other carers have commented how they also got time for their own pastimes such as fishing and swimming.
A health visitor fed back that the family were delighted with their holiday. Mum said that it was a wake up call to see the children out playing and enjoying themselves with no worries. She herself feels that the holiday allowed time to be able to clear her head and make plans for the future and gave her confidence to get out and about when back home. The youngest child learned to swim independently while there. This holiday has undoubtedly made a huge difference to this family.
Through sharing learning and practice, there will be a better understanding of the role of short breaks in supporting caring relationships, and a better understanding of the short break needs of disabled children and young people, and their carers.
We continue to use and highlight the personal stories we receive as part of our ongoing feedback as a way of demonstrating the difference a holiday can make. We also refer to the broader work being done (we are part of both Shared Care Scotland and the Holidays Matter network) to highlight and promote the benefit of a break or holiday and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives.
We use any opportunity we can, within our resources, to promote and highlight the benefits of a break. This has recently included presentations to EDF Energy, the later learning association at Strathclyde University and through Glasgow community planning networks.