2019 Summer Respite Holiday
A story by SAMs Charity
SAMs Charity delivered a Summer Respite Holiday to improve the well-being and reduce the isolation of children/young people 3-18 yrs with disabilities/multiple additional support needs and their parents/carers. By accessing respite , Parents/carers are better able to continue coping with caring roles
What 2019 Summer Respite Holiday did
We delivered a 6 day Summer Respite Holiday for 32 x vulnerable children/young people 3-18 with disabilities and/or multiple additional support needs 13 x siblings, and 26 x Parents/Carers at Wydale Hall in Scarborough 21-26 July 2019.
Activities were chosen prior to the event based on the interests/needs of those supported. During each morning, children/young people engaged in interactive group activities, arts/crafts, and/or 1-to-1 support within the Soft Play, Quiet, and Sensory Spaces we created using specially-adapted equipment brought with us. These spaces enabled our trained volunteers to provide support based on each child’s needs, incl., 1-to-1 sensory support for those with profound disabilities.
During afternoons, children/young people engaged in day-outings to Flamingoland, Wipeout Park, the beach, and horse riding at a facility supporting children with disabilities. The children had a brilliant time, building new friendships and positive memories that will last a lifetime. We also held a ‘reserve’ of Helpers that provided alternative games, quiet time, etc., as needed.
Whilst children took part in these activities, Parents/Carers received approx. 8 hours of respite per day to de-stress and focus on their own well-being: helping them better cope/continue carrying out their caring responsibilities they are unable to otherwise experience this ‘me time’ due to their child’s support needs/financial limitations. During this time, parents/carers enjoyed time with their partners/peers and engaged in adult-only activities incl., Pamper Day for Mums and Pub & Pool Day for Dads/Male-Carers, Bingo Extravaganza, Day Trips/Lunches, and a Parent/Carer Night Out.
Family-wide activities were delivered each evening during which families could simply enjoy each other’s company improving family relationships and creating new support networks to reduce their long-term isolation/improve resilience. Activities included a Disco, Special Olympics Sports Day, Fancy Dress & Games Night, Pizza & Movie Night, and ‘Got Talent’ Night.
What SAMs Charity has learned
We have continued to actively involve both children and their Parents/Carers in planning the activities, support, and outings provided throughout the annual Respite Holiday: providing opportunities for them to have their voices heard/valued and be in control of the support/respite accessed. The funding kindly awarded enables us to fully engage these ideas rather than pushing them to the side due to cost: helping us provide a range of activities, support opportunities, and day outings that meet both their interests and many, unique needs.
Funding kindly awarded by the Better Breaks Fund also supported SAMs Charity to secure additional grants from other trusts and foundations, which enabled us to offer more places for more vulnerable families.
The overall support of the Better Breaks Fund over the past 2 years has enabled SAMs Charity to offer Parents/Carers more adult-only activities which has significantly increased the overall impact made on their lives, helping ‘restore’ those supported by giving them the ‘me time’ they so desperately need and deserve but which they are unable to access due to their children's’ significant support needs and financial disadvantages.
During the Summer 2019 Respite Holiday, Parents/Carers not only benefited from accessing significant respite each day but also accessed the following adult-only activities during this time: Pamper Day for Mums and Pub & Pool Day for Dads/Male-Carers, Bingo Extravaganza, Day Trips/Lunches, and a Parent/Carer Night Out.
Mums particularly loved the pamper days where they accessed spa facilities and received a manicure or pedicure, items they simply can’t typically access. The combined respite and adult-only activities provided enable Parents/Carers to enjoy time with their partners, focus on themselves/their own well-being, and socialise with their peers with whom they can share laughter, experiences, and overall support.
We did face one particular challenge as we have now reached the maximum number of individuals that the Wydale Centre Hall can hold, with 2 x new families added to a waiting list. However, following a significant fundraising push over the past year, we finally secured the funding required to purchase a new Specially-adapted Caravan that can meet the unique needs of the children/young people with disabilities/multiple additional support needs that we assist and promote positive family relationships. This was purchased in early June 2019 and underwent 8 weeks of adaptations. We were therefore able to offer the 2 x families that were signed up to the waiting list a free week of respite at the brand-new caravan. They will have first-priority on next year’s respite holiday.
How SAMs Charity has benefitted from the funding
Funding has enabled SAMs Charity to offer more places for more vulnerable families than ever before as well as has enabled us to provide a wider range of free activities, support opportunities, and day outings for both children/young people with disabilities/multiple additional support needs and their Parents/Carers and we have now, in fact, reached the maximum number of placements allowed at the venue (incl., volunteers as well as the families). Given the disadvantages and poverty/low-income experienced by most of the families we engage with, having access to a wide range of mainstream activities can be truly life-changing and has a significantly positive impact on their overall well-being and family relationships. This has had a significant impact on the charity’s overall aim of full inclusion for all children and well-tailored respite support to help their Parents/Carers continue coping with/carrying out their caring responsibilities. Whilst the overall Respite Holiday we provide is a significant expense, we feel that it represents great value for money in terms of the overall, lasting impact it has on the families supported and the immeasurable benefits they experience. Funding to run our annual Respite Holiday also gives our volunteers the opportunity to gain more experiences working with vulnerable children and families in different, unfamiliar settings: helping better prepare them for their own world of work, learning, and personal commitments especially for our younger volunteers who are still at college/university. In this way, the Project also provides immeasurable benefits for them as active citizens, making a significant contribution to the local community. In connection, individuals supporting SAMs Charity have progressed from simple volunteers to becoming qualified, full-time Carers in the Care Sector following their positive experience supporting/working with the children/young people we engage with.
30 children/Young People with disabilities/multiple additional support needs will have taken part in a 6 day Respite Holiday during which they’ll have engaged in interactive games, inclusive sports, 1-to-1 sensory, and day trips previously inaccessible. As a result, children/young people will feel less isolated and more positive and resilient.
32 children/young people with disabilities/multiple additional support needs and 13 x siblings engaged in a 6 day-long Respite Holiday during which they engaged in many activities otherwise inaccessible incl., interactive games, inclusive sports, 1-to-1 sensory, soft play, and day trips to Flamingoland, Wipeout Park, the beach, and horse riding. By engaging in these activities, exploring/taking on new challenges independently, and receiving positive confirmations from peers/volunteers, children with disabilities/multiple additional support needs gained/improved their independence, developed practical skills via play incl., social/communication, teamwork, and fair play; and gained confidence/ positive self-esteem. Most importantly, the holiday enabled children that experience isolation/exclusion in the wider community to relax, be themselves, and build strong peer networks: helping them feel less isolated and more resilient.
P has severe autism and learning disabilities and can become overwhelmed, upset, and often aggressive when things are noisy, busy, or when confronted with being told no or not getting his way which can make being around other children stressful for both him and his mum, esp., as P doesn’t understand social cues/concepts and doesn’t realise when he’s being too rough when playing. These challenges lead to significant difficulties at home and at the additional needs school he attends and his mother was extremely worried that he, she, or we wouldn’t be able to cope during the holiday as it was their first time away from home for multiple nights. Although Paul experienced a meltdown on the first night during which he began hitting his mum whilst in the dining hall area of the residential venue we use as he didn’t like the noise or big group, we were able to quickly adapt the distraction and support techniques we use during our on-going Children’s Club which P had recently started attending to help him immediately calm down and established a daily action plan to help us proactively identify potential melt-down situations before they occurred so that we could enhance P’s overall experience as well as that of his mum. As part of this, we kept P informed of every thing before it happened, e.g., activities/what they are, mealtimes, travel, breaks, etc., and had P enjoy mealtimes with his 1-to-1 volunteer Helper(s) reading books, playing games and more in the ‘Quiet Space’ we develop each year/kit out with sensory equipment/resources we bring with us for children that struggle with the larger group dynamic like P. P enjoyed the holiday more and more with each day and forged a strong, trusting bond with both his Helpers, with two supporting him the first 3 days and 1 supporting him the remaining holiday as he became more settled, as well as the Chair whose support further helped reassure P whenever worried/had a question/etc. P made small improvements each day and particularly flourished through engaging in quieter games/activities with small groups of kids in the Quiet/Sensory Spaces. P’s mum was delighted that P had settled in the environment and was so thrilled to see him happily play with other kids in these spaces, helping her relax more and experience her own benefits. P felt comfortable enough with his Helper, Chair, and the other kids he built bonds with that he decided to join/take part in the entire final family-wide event held, with the outdoor environment helping him feel less stress about noise/the group’s size. As a result of our proactive action plans, adaptations, and constant support, P was able to spend the holiday socialising with his peers, trying new activities, and enjoying himself in a safe, supportive, and inclusive space during his first holiday/trip away from home support. P got on so well with one of the other children that they’ve had a few play dates since returning from the holiday: extending the benefits beyond the holiday itself. “My daughter has had a ball with SAMs. All of the volunteers are fantastic. “ C. N “I couldn’t have asked for more wonderful, supportive people and to be a part of a better group. J has felt so at ease with the volunteers and he’s come out of his shell more. He’s now built so many friendships and confidants and I’m so thankful for this! K.B
30 children/young people with disabilities/multiple additional support needs and 25 Parents/Carers will have taken part in a 6 day-long Respite Holiday during which they’ll engage in positive activities, experience an environment outwith their community, develop new friends/support networks and skills, and feel more supported.
Our 6 day-long Respite Holiday enabled 32 x children/young people with disabilities/multiple additional support needs and 26 x Parents/Carers to engage in fun, inclusive activities that would typically be inaccessible due to each child’s support needs and financial disadvantage, offering unique chances for these families to relax, have fun, and enjoy each other away from the day-to-day stress/pressure/responsibilities at home: helping families feel happier, more positive about the future, and build stronger family bonds/relationships. 13 x children siblings also took part, offering unique chances for able-bodied and disabled children to engage in fun, integrated activities: strengthening bonds between siblings and improving their attitudes towards each disabled child, e.g., reducing jealousy/frustration possibly felt due to all attention being on the disabled sibling(s). This helped improve inter-family relationships and enhanced the support structure for each disabled child: helping them thrive in the long-term.
A has Angleman Syndrome, which impacts her physical mobility and communication and causes severe epileptic fits she also has a gastrostomy in his stomach for feeding. A’s epilepsy developed last year and has resulted in numerous hospital stays that have, in turn, exacerbated her other health conditions. A and her parents experience significant isolation. A’s mum is her primary carer as her dad works full-time, they don’t have close family support as her gran and aunt previously passed away and other family live outside of Glasgow, and unfortunately the time, emotional, and physical demands of A’s disabilities do not offer much time for general friendships, with doctor appointments attended as often as weekly/bi-weekly outwith A’s hospital stays on top of daily care needs. The family has however built very strong support networks since joining our service, helping support the overall inclusion, well-being, and quality of life of each individual family member. Due to the significant issues impacting A, the family has accessed the SAMs holiday twice before and have reported that it offers them a lifeline to help them feel happy, renewed, and more resilient both in the short-term and long-term. Whilst A engaged in increased activities and accessed fun, unique outings during the July holiday via which she built happy, life-long memories with the friends she’s developed at SAMs, her mum and dad were able to spend quality time together as well as socialise with the other parents with whom they shared laughter, experiences, and general peer support. A’s mum particularly bonded with a new ‘SAMs Parent’ during the holiday with whom she’s made fast friends and the 2 mums have continued to meet regularly as their daughters also get along brilliantly supporting their long-term inclusion and well-being. A’s mum stated that, following the significant set-backs that A experienced health-wise in the past year, the 2019 Respite Holiday helped them recharge and feel stronger both as parents and as a family. Outwith the positive outcomes achieved during the holiday itself that have long-term impacts, the family experienced a completely surprising outcome as A’s 1-to-1 Helper, a trained first-aider training to become a professional carer, offered to babysit A to give her Parents more respite opportunities outwith SAMs’ formal service provision which has provided an additional though unexpected far-reaching positive impact on their overall lives. “It was the most amazing time away that P has ever had! He had the opportunity to go on the most amazing trips and have so much fun and for me to have the opportunity to relax knowing my son was being looked after so well, keeping him safe from any dangers and giving me peace of mind knowing how well all the volunteers went above and beyond to make every moment special. We’ve never had a break like this and had the best time thanks to the SAMs group, and I hope we have the opportunity to go again if possible. Thanks again.” J. McDermott “D & L absolutely loved the Wydale holiday. I really enjoy getting to spend time with all of the families we’ve made friends with. There’s loads of young support Helpers. They are full of energy and fun and a great mix for the kids. It’s a very unique environment for the whole family to meet and mix with other families. L has made so many good friends with other lovely children who understand her life.” H.R
25 Parents/Carers will have taken part in a 6 day-long Respite Holiday during which they’ll receive much-needed respite, spend time with their partner/peers, and build new friendships via shared experiences whilst engaging in parent-only activities that were previously inaccessible.
26 x Parents/Carers of children with disabilities/multiple additional support needs benefited from our 6 day-long Respite Holiday. SAMs provided children-only activities/outings each day: giving Parents/Carers approx. 8 hours of respite per day to de-stress, relax, spent time with partners/peers, and engage in adult-only activities incl., Pamper Day for Mums and Pub & Pool Day for Dads/Male Carers, Bingo Extravaganza, Day Trips/Lunches, and a Parent/Carer Night Out. These opportunities/activities are a vital aspect of our Respite Holiday and helped Parents/Carers feel less stressed/hopeless, stronger and more able to cope with their caring responsibilities, and build positive friendships/support networks with peers. As a result of feeling ‘restored’ better able to cope, family communication/relationships improve: supporting each family’s long-term well-being/quality of life.
PM is a single mum to two children, a child with severe autism and an older, able-bodied daughter. PM struggles to maintain a good work/life balance as her son is regularly excluded from the additional support needs school he attends due to his challenging behaviour which requires her to regularly take off work, impacting the family’s finances. She lacks a support network as she isn’t close to family and doesn’t have time for friends and gets the bare minimum respite support offered by the government. Whilst she loves her children, she struggles with her role as a single mother as she has no time for herself and finds herself relying on her daughter to watch her autistic son every week so that she can have 30 minutes for herself at home. Whilst most of our clients self-refer to SAMs after hearing positive word of mouth feedback from other community members, PM heard abut us after our Chair and Secretary attended a ‘Community Showcase’ event at Parkhead Nursery advertising local organisations that can support vulnerable families with different needs. PM and her kids had an absolutely brilliant time during the holiday accessing the various activities and outings provided, things she said she’d never be able to provide as a single mother. As she knew they were safe in our hands, she was able to relax, focus on herself, and socialise with other Parents/Carers. Although the holiday provided increased opportunities and supported the well-being of her children, it had a significant impact on her overall quality of life by giving her the respite and support needed to recharge and a range of enjoyable adult-only activities outwith her caring role. “We have just returned from an amazing week away with the Sam's family. I thought these guys couldn't get any better but they have a very well organised week full of fun filled adventures for the kids who returned tired but very happy smiling faces all around. Which gave free time for us parents/carers to explore the local areas and have some Me time, pub lunches, spa treatments etc. Just cannot express enough thanks.” B. Conroy “As a parent it’s great to be able to be completely comfortable leaving your children knowing that they will be entertained and cared for. We have met some wonderful families.” C. Noble
25 Parents/Carers will have taken part in a 6 day-long Respite Holiday during which they’ll receive much-needed respite, spend time with their partner/peers, and engage in parent-only activities that were previously unavailable due to their child’s complex support needs and financial limitations.
26 x Parents/Carers of children with disabilities/multiple additional support needs benefited from our 6 day-long Summer Respite Holiday. SAMs provided children-only activities/outings each day: giving Parents/Carers approx. 8 hours of respite per day to de-stress, relax, spent time with partners/peers, and engage in adult-only activities incl., Pamper Day for Mums and Pub & Pool Day for Dads/Male Carers, Bingo Extravaganza, Day Trips/Lunches, and a Parent/Carer Night Out. These opportunities/activities are a vital aspect of our Respite Holiday and helped Parents/Carers feel less stressed/hopeless, stronger and more able to cope with their caring responsibilities, and build positive friendships/support networks with peers. As a result of feeling ‘restored’ better able to cope, family communication/relationships improve: supporting each family’s long-term well-being/quality of life.
L & A are parents of a young girl with a range of learning disabilities and additional support needs. The family primarily survive on benefits and do not have money to spend on dinners out, much less a family holiday. Although the mother, L, is their daughter’s primary caregiver, she has kidney disease and is in and out of the hospital regularly herself. The father, A, has mental illness and really struggles to be the primary caregiver when L is in the hospital, with professional carers that volunteer at SAMs sometimes providing free caring support to help the family better manage during these difficult period as they know and understand their daughters’ significant support needs and as she sometimes struggles to cope/gets very upset around new people. L & A absolutely loved the holiday and you could almost see the stress and tension slowly lift from their shoulders over the 6 days. The mother cried at the end to thank us for providing such a wonderful opportunity for both their daughter and themselves and that – “we didn’t realise we would get so much of a break, I can’t thank you enough.” “It’s been wonderful to have time to relax with other parents and we’ve made brilliant friends!” C.D “I genuinely feel so much less stressed and better overall.” – M.P