A story by KEY
We facilitated regular Saturday sessions for young people aged 14-18 years with a range of support needs who are socially isolated.
To promote confidence, life skills and social connections while enabling carers to have time for themselves, see friends and family including dedicated time with non-disabled children, and provide identified carer-specific support sessions.
What FunKey did
The support was provided by current staff having identified their individual attributes and skill set as to what they could offer in terms of facilitating activities with individuals and the group. Training was identified and provided to meet gaps such as Child Protection and Teamwork.
Following the consultation work with families and Commissioners there was an advertising Flyer circulated through Social Work, Education and Third Sector Agencies. At the same time an application form was also circulated which had to be completed to allow us to ensure we had the skills of workers to provide the necessary support to meet individual needs and identify any areas of Risk to be managed. Following this consultation sessions took place with the young people and their carers and then as a group accessing the Saturday sessions to identify the activities each wanted and the outcomes such as developing their peer group.
Over the period of the funding we provided 30 Saturday sessions. These were facilitated from our office base where there are 2 large activities rooms so we always had a start and end point for consistency with both the young people and their careers. Other activities were sourced by accessing local groups and amenities and took place within the local community.
Carers informed us they used this time to have some personal time, do shopping and spend time with siblings of those accessing the group.
Mum fed back that the group provided her with much needed respite and knowing A was being well cared for and was happy made this meaningful for her. She was touched at our efforts to ensure the facilities matched his needs and his dignity had been paramount. We were also able to provide sensory experience which he enjoyed. Mum also she knew how much he enjoyed this and loved hearing him laugh as she quietly arrived to pick him up.
J's self-esteem grew which was evident in his travel and also participation in activities even those he initially identified as not wanting to do. He evidently role modelled from his peer group which was evident in his presentation in socialising and his personal care and dress. He very early talked about other group members as his friends.
N had become socially isolated from her peer group and had issues around her image and confidence. By matching N with workers who were younger and ‘in touch’ with youth culture we were able to work with N in ways which gradually increased her confidence and self-worth.
As time went on N felt confident and empowered enough to share a traumatic experience she had involving social media, our workers were able to offer her space to discuss this and in doing so she was able to ‘move on’ and it was evident that her personal self-esteem and confidence had increased. In addition to this was also able to join in with various activities such as craft and indoor games which provided her with the opportunity to have fun join in and relax.
What KEY has learnedWe realised that even though we consulted with Commissioners, families and other agencies who identified the need for the group there were difficulties in securing attendance…. The commitment of families was difficult despite the need for the group and also this being on a day and time also driven by young people and their careers. As we went along we constantly analysed, asked for input and feedback to drive this forward we struggled to gain the commitment.
The children and young people’s commissioner has since acknowledged the difficulties in the area and that commonly to get anything “off the ground” here takes 2 years. The group was very diverse which had both positive and negative influences.