A story by North Berwick Youth Project
Four weekend residentials for young people with ASN and disabilities in an activity centre giving them experiences not normally available and giving carers respite.
Once monthly catch ups where carers and the young people are invited to meet for an informal catch up with youth workers.
What Active Breaks did
Delivery of 4 x 2 night outdoor activity residentials for young people aged 11 - 20 who have ASN and disabilities and monthly catch up's which allowed youth workers to build stronger relationships with carers and young people and gave opportunity for the participants to help shape the project, raise concerns, report on the young people's journey and identify areas to be added into the young people's plans which they used as a guide to work towards goals.
The residentials took place over a period of one year at 2 outdoor education centres, one in Biggar and 3 at Ardroy Centre in Lochgoilhead. The monthly meets took place at our base in North Berwick.
Young people were identified through liaising with our local partners, North Berwick High School, local primary schools and social work. We also identified young people through both our mainstream and ASN services at NB Youth Project. 21 young people took part over the course of the project and as a result this benefitted 34 carers.
We asked carers for feedback using Survey Monkey and they said the following of using their time whilst their young people were on their short breaks;
'It allowed us to spend more time with our other children'
' It allowed me to relax knowing that my son was safe with people that I trust and know will look after him'
'I was able to spend more quality time with my family'
' We were able to relax and have a few days where we were not walking on eggshells and we could focus on our other children and get out and about in a more relaxed and enjoyable way with the anxiety of challenging behaviours removed'
As a result of the project we have built a fantastic partnership with Ardroy outdoor education centre which has allowed us to explore future projects and an increased impact that new ideas of project delivery could have both on young people and their carers. We recruited a young leader who herself has ASN and this was a great experience for her to build her confidence and skills before she moves into further education and independent living.
What North Berwick Youth Project has learned
Suitable centres and partners
At the start of the Project we quickly changed the centre that we were using. We quickly identified that we needed a small centre with few, or no other groups in attendance at the same time and benefitted from working with new instructors who had more experience of working with young people with ASN.
Engaging with existing and new families more
Having our monthly catch up's and more 1:1 communication with families allowed us to have a clearer picture of their needs and a better understanding of their young people. Often behaviours that are displayed at home, are not displayed when we are working with the young people so this was helpful in supporting both the families and young people in managing these behaviours / emotions.
Partnership working / developing new activities.
Through the partnerships that we have built with the centre and instructors there, we have already been able to recognise from feedback what could be put in place to give young people and carers a greater experience. Working with likeminded and passionate professionals has been a benefit to all in creating a vision for future projects.
How North Berwick Youth Project has benefitted from the funding
* Developing partnerships We have developed stronger partnerships with the social care team and schools, we have received more referrals overall and the project has helped to build our reputation in working with young people with additional support needs in a more structured way. * Working with parents & carers We are more aware now than ever, the power in working with parents and carers. Some of our services are very informal and we have minimal contact with the adults in the young people's lives. However, we intend to introduce more opportunities for parents and carers to be more involved in the Youth Project and their child's involvement across all of our groups.
13 young people will report that they have had fun, develop friendships and done activities they enjoy.
21 young people reported that they had had fun, created new friendships and done activities that they enjoyed. In feedback young people were asked the following out of 21 young people the following answered the below. 14 made new friends 19 engaged in activities that they wouldn't have been able to otherwise 21 said they had fun and enjoyed the residentials Some of the feedback that came from the end of residential evaluations are below. We will also share some of our social media posts on the young peoples experiences. ' My fav activity was canoeing because it was fun and I enjoyed being in the water' 'My fav activity was the squeeze (caving) because it helped me get over my fear of heights' 'It has been good to get a break away since I can have loads of fun that is not involving my family'
had fun, develop friendships and done activities they enjoy. A young person was identified as being lonely and isolated. The had few friends and does not attend mainstream school like some of their peers meaning that they were disconnected from their community. This young person took part in two of the residentials resulting in building new friendships and was supported into accessing both our ASN youth club and mainstream services. They now attend the Youth Project twice weekly and have a good circle of friends that they connect with, have things in common and continues to build friendships with others. The young persons parent has reported; 'C is happier and more positive, she has had sleepovers with friends since getting involved with the Youth Project and in turn this has given me more opportunity for a bit of time to myself when she is staying at friends' The young person features in our short video clip, telling us why they enjoyed taking part in the residential' https://youtu.be/JMus5CWDzW8
22 carers will report that they have had more opportunities to enjoy life as a result of the breaks for the young people.
Carers were invited to give feedback, 21 completed the feedback forms. 18 said they due to the respite they had more opportunity to enjoy life. 'My child had challenging behaviour and her ASN means she is highly demanding, she requires significant guidance and support therefore time away frees us as parents to give our other children more time they need and deserve, the house is calm and anxiety levels dropped dramatically' Through our monthly catch ups, carers discussed how having the respite residentials to look forward to meant that they were able to plan how they would spend their time of respite and used this for quality personal time which allowed them to recharge and recoup. The monthly sessions also allowed them to have a say in when the residentials would operate, working well into the carers lives and wants.
Carers will report that they have had more opportunities to enjoy life as a result of the breaks for the young people. This family struggle with their child's behaviours which can be challenging, this impacts the time that they are able to spend with their other children and having the opportunity to get respite as a result of the Better Breaks project allowed them to plan ahead of time. Knowing that their eldest child would be on residential meant they could plan a glamping trip with their other children and spend quality time with them. It has given the time needed to re-charge their batteries and feel better about their relationships with their other children. The carer said 'Every morning brings me anxiety from the moment that I wake up, we never know how G is going to react to each day and sometimes this comes in the form of frustrations which lead to aggression, lots of shouting and a general low mood in the house which is impacting G's sisters. Getting this support has been a life line for our family over the past months and G has also had a brilliant time, it's what we have all needed'
22 carers will report that they feel more supported in their caring role.
21 carers completed the questionnaire. When asked 'As a carer do you feel better supported?' all said they did. comments included; 'I feel understood and mentally supported' 'I have been supported in managing my child behaviour and the youth workers support us through the catch up meetings too. This gives us all a chance as carers to also support one another' 'The support that is there through the project for my son, and myself had definitely made me feel better supported and that raising him is not just on me and I feel that the project is supporting him and turning him into an independent and confident young person. This has made me feel so incredibly supported and for that I am grateful'
Carers will report that they feel more supported in their caring role. Through the monthly catch-up's with the carers we were able to offer a platform for carers to share their experiences, have others in similar situations to speak to and be able to seek additional support where it was appropriate. At the catch-up's and other communication such as directly with the carers, staff were able to build a picture of how the project was impacting them. It was clear that having supports in place outside of school or other weekday supports that their child receives became a 'lifeline' for some of the families. Weekends could be incredibly hard work for some of the carers and having the respite breaks in place was a huge help. 'Seeing my child be so isolated was heart breaking and it meant that it was a constant worry for me. Having the camps (residentials) was so looked forward to by us both. Her life has changed completely. She is more confident, outgoing and has friends now. Thank you so much'
13 young people and 22 carers will report that their wellbeing has increased. We will use indicators like and increase in confidence, feeling less socially isolated and more independent.
21 carers completed the survey and all 21 young people completed indicators and end of residential evaluations. Carers were asked - As a result of taking part in better breaks residentials, my child.. Was less isolated x 21 Increased confidence x 19 Increased social skills x 20 Is engaged more x 21 Is better supported x 19 Felt included x 20 Was more responsible x 17 Was more independent x 19 Increased life skills x 19 carers were also asked - Rate your increase in overall wellbeing as a carer from 1 - 5 with 5 being best since taking part in the project - 18 carers answered 4 or 5. Young people completed indicators which they completed pre and post residential of the following they rated higher on.. Confidence x 20 Team Work x 21 Achieving targets x 18 Safe x 20 Healthy x 17 Active x 21 Nurtured x 21 Achieving x 19 Respected x 18 Responsible x 17 Included x 21
wellbeing has increased One carer reported the below. Without actually mentioning wellbeing, it is clear that they report on factors which contribute to wellbeing and the changes to their child and them as a family unit since starting the project. 'The residential is something I personally never thought my daughter would take part in , however with the encouragement and support of our youth workers her mindset was completely different , she wanted to go and was excited for going , she was nervous about some of the activities but gave it her best and challenged herself physically and mentally , this has given her a boost of confidence and changed her approach from “ I can’t , to I can “ this has paid off in other aspects of her learning too . It has given her a platform to challenge new things . Our family life has also had a positive impact as she is more willing to join in with family activities making us a more active family , enjoying each other challenging themselves too !'