Hand in Hand
A story by Girvan Youth Trust
We provided a peer buddying initiative providing social & recreational opportunities for 35 young people with Learning Disabilities and 10 Peer Buddies, through a fun and diverse developmental programme of activities.
The project also offers respite to the families and carers of the young people that participate.
What Hand in Hand did
Within the year we recruited 12 new volunteer peer buddies, some young people are referred to us through Educational and Social Services. We also promote our activities within the local schools and at our weekly club. The young people who participate in Hand in Hand are invited to participate in the activities and trips.
Hand in Hand provided a club every Sunday evening (minus 4 weeks - holidays) for 2 hours within the Z1 Youth Bar as well as a weekly after school club during term time for 1 hour. Other than this we also delivered 9 day trips, a camp and 2 residential breaks. Some examples of some of our day trips are, Blair Drummond Safari Park, The Falkirk Wheel, Skiing, Blackpool, Canoeing. For one of the residential breaks we took a group of young people on a 5 day sailing voyage with the Ocean Youth Trust who also gave us a reduced rate to help with the cost.
The breaks we provide are for the children and their peers, not the carers. Having met with the carers of the young people many highlighted that Hand in Hand provide the only respite opportunity for them. They use this time for spending quality time with other siblings; doing things they enjoy that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise.
As time progressed the young person began growing in confidence and started mixing more with others within the group. A recent quote from his mum “My son has come out his shell, has a lot more confidence in himself. Is more open and able to give things a try. He has the confidence to socialize with others and is able to express himself more”.
Within the last year he had made significant steps to becoming independent and doing things he chooses out with his peer group. In July 2016 he attended a Ski Camp with Girvan Youth Trust (not Hand in Hand) and other Youth Groups in Ayrshire. None of his friends were attending but this did not hold him back and he achieved a certified award for his ability in Skiing. He has also begun attending the Big Music Project at Z1 Youth Bar where he is mixing with a different peer group, being part of a band. Through being part of Hand in Hand this young person has accessed other mainstream activities and has successfully engaged in other leisure services.
In 2016 a young girl with Cerebral Palsy who is a wheel chair user began accessing the opportunities within Hand in Hand. Since joining the Project this young person has benefited greatly from the activities that have taken place. Her mum told us “She has been on many trips, always enjoys participating and would like to go to more. When she returns home she talks about it non-stop, remembers every detail and always has positive comments.”
What Girvan Youth Trust has learnedThe fund has allowed our organisation to develop the activities and opportunities that we provide for young people with Learning Disabilities and their families.
Unexpected benefits, the funding we received from Better Breaks for residential stays helped us to secure reduced rates from providers which meant we were able to book longer breaks, these included; a 5 day sail from Oban to Aberdeen and a 5 day Outdoor Activity Residential on the Island of Mull.
We have been meeting with the young people who attend Hand in Hand on an individual basis. With each young person we have been doing ‘being my best’ sessions, allowing the young person to express their likes and dislikes, their aspirations etc. These sessions help us to build a programme of activities more personalized to the individual.
We are most likely to attract those less likely to ask for support through our engagement with the local schools and our partnership working with the Learning Support Teams. For harder to reach young people we initially engage with them through school, building relations and trust. This often then leads to the young people attending Hand in Hand out with school.