Adults 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 Adults 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 and our website. During the year we provided 38 1:1 and 32 group links to 64 adults with learning disabilities aged 20+ (6 had both) and 12 people were new to the project.
Their 92 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. We continued the development of our overnight trips, taking a group to Edinburgh and two groups camping. These were fairly small groups (a total of 9 adults with learning disabilities were involved) and we intend to try-out larger groups in Spring and Summer 2016.
The groups were varied, in Coldstream the group is now well established. They have the run of community centre’s facilities and activities included a BBQ, croquet, trip to the beach & Dynamic Earth, giant jenga and archery. In Hawick the Caledonian Group has met monthly for over 12 years. They filmed a drama production, which can be viewed on You Tube, they are also planning an overnight trip. In Galashiels we continued to run the groups as in-house evening classes in arts & crafts, cooking and health & fitness. There were three terms of 6 weeks each.
We completed a 2 month pilot project for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities in a nursing home in Duns. The group uses Intensive Interaction techniques using sound and colour to overcome the communication problems faced by service users who are paralysed have no speech.
His family carer said that he ‘loves it, not only to see different folk but to do things he has never done before’ and explained that though he does not like exercise (his extra weight is an issue for him) he was very keen to join in these physical games with others and that this was really good for him.
Diana, Neil’s mother feels delighted that Neil has something to do in the evenings where ‘he is safe with people he likes’ and she also appreciates the ‘time to herself during these evenings’. She has been able to meet up with friends and says Neil and she have new things to talk about, which makes home life more enjoyable.
Lauren’s mum says “Lauren was bereft when her siblings left home and she no longer had that social outlet. Interest Link was a life line for her as it has allowed her to develop her own social circle without everything being instigated or accompanied by mum! She has become much more confident and loves the time she spends with her buddy. The fact that you organise transport means that it take pressure off me to take her places. I can relax and am certainly in a happier state of mind and readier to meet challenges by the time that Lauren comes home.”
Mary finds the link very fulfilling, feels that their friendship is genuine and lasting and says that they always have fun together. Louise says she loves being with Mary. Theirs is a natural and comfortable friendship and it is a joy to see.
Mary’s parents said “we’re delighted that Mary has such a good friend, and hope their relationship will continue as long as possible. We see how her confidence has blossomed and love the break it gives us”.
Lucille was linked 1-1 with a volunteer befriender Joanna, 6 years ago and they still meet every two weeks. They visit local places of interest, go for picnics, drop into charity shops, enjoy lunches and cream teas in as many places as they can find with good disability access and they laugh, sing and chat.
Joanna says ‘she sees me as a special friend and is so pleased that I can take her out.’ There have been a few occasions when Joanna has corrected people who have undermined Lucille when they have been out, though Lucille is increasingly likely to stand up for herself now.
They often take photos of where they have been and what they have done and keep them in a scrapbook with a description of their day. This has built up into a sizable collection now and Lucille is happy that it’s ‘full of lovely memories’ about good times she has had with Joanna.
Her parents tell me how very highly they think of Joanna, that they see an improvement in their daughter’s happiness and they really appreciate that Joanna takes a genuine interest in their daughter. Seeing Joanna happy and with a friend takes a huge weight off their minds and has made for a more positive outlook in everyone in the household.