Adult Short Breaks Project
A story by Interest Link Borders
We provided 1:1 and group befriending for adults with learning disabilities living in the Scottish Borders.
This improved their quality of life and gave their family carers the chance to enjoy a life outside of their caring role. The service was delivered entirely by volunteers.
What Adult Short Breaks Project did
We reached families through statutory and third sector organisations and directly through local publicity and our website. Volunteer recruitment was principally by word-of-mouth, the Volunteer Centre, our website and online recruitment sites such as Indeed.
During the year, we provided 34 1:1 befriending links and 32 group links to 61 adults with learning disabilities aged 20+ (5 had both). 8 people were new to the Project. Their 93 family carers did a wide variety of things with the time available to them, some caught up with friends and did community activities such as evening classes, others had the chance to pay more attention to other family members or just have a quiet time at home.
Most of the 1:1 links met weekly or fortnightly and did community activities of all types, such as evening classes, arts & crafts, golf, the cinema, cycling, local events, walks, swimming, shopping, dance classes and football. A number also went further afield on day-long trips to Bannockburn, Stirling, Millport, Edinburgh, using the new Borders Railway where possible.
Overnight trips included the Caledonian Group going to the Calvert Trust at Keilder, the groups were varied, an independent evaluation of the Coldstream Group and their various activities was produced and can be viewed on our website.
The Caledonian Group had an overnight trip to the Calvert Trust at Keilder, and an independent evaluation was carried out, in Galashiels we continued to run the groups as in-house evening classes in arts & crafts, cooking and health & fitness. These met every fortnight throughout the year. The Peebles Motivators Group had its first overnight trip, to Netherurd Adventure Centre. All involved had an excellent time, and some photos and feedback can be found on our website.
Fiona is non-verbal and always smiling. Fiona joins in with the craft sessions with one of our adult volunteers and enjoys her time with us. Fiona also joined us last year on our residential night away and had a great time. This worked out very well with mum and dad then able to enjoy a day out at a local sports event too, knowing that Fiona was off tripping the lights in the city!
“I’d like to say how much I appreciate the brilliant work you guys do and the positive effect you have on Fiona. She really enjoys the group and looks forward to Tuesday nights. She comes home happy and relaxed which has a positive effect on the whole family and helps keep things on an even keel. She has benefited in so many ways. The group has given her a chance to experience activities with people her own age group – developing her confidence and social skills. A huge “Thank You” to everyone!”
Earlier this year 2 best friends (Kate and Helen) volunteered and we thought we could create a lively wee group for activity visits to Tessa’s home. The girls get together approximately once a month and thus far have done scrap booking, craft and ginger bread houses (subsequently knocked down for taste testing/concerns about a building warrant..)
‘Working with interest Link has been fantastic as I feel like I'm able to make a difference to peoples' lives just by being there as a friend. Tessa seems to really enjoy the time that we spend with her, and every day I spend with her is as rewarding as it is enjoyable.’
Her mum says ‘Tara loves the girls coming round. She likes the chat and they make her laugh. An excellent time is had by all, including me! Seeing Tara have such a good time really brightens up my life and puts me in a much better frame of mind’
David has been badly bullied in the past and feels very anxious in the company of groups of people and particularly people he doesn’t know. He will cross to the other side of the street to avoid strangers. He has said that he feels safe and relaxed because our group is not too big and works for him as it’s always the same people that are there.
He joins in all of the activities which vary from badminton, darts, crafts, theatre, films and indoor bowling, to BBQ’s and parties. He likes to meet the other people and has developed a good relationship with some of the members where he will chat and joke and tease them too. When he suffered an illness recently the group missed him and sent him get well cards.
When I visited him he said he really appreciated the cards and we slowly worked with him so that he could come back to the group when he was ready. He has been back regularly for a few months now and his sister says this has been an important step in his improvement and regaining his self–confidence.
Many people told David how they’d missed him and were pleased to see him back and from the smile on his face he enjoyed hearing this from them.
David’s sister and mother have both commented on how relieved they are he has some independent social contact and fun in a safe environment, It also gives them more hope for the future when they can no longer care for him.
What Interest Link Borders has learnedOvernight trips add an enormous amount of value to befriending relationships: group members really open up to each other and bond, and the trip is an unforgettable experience.
Carers hugely appreciate the extended respite in overnight trips and that the person they care for can be more independent. It gives hope for the future and can help carers let go. Volunteers don’t generally look for wider recognition, but deserve it and appreciate it when it is given.