A story by Cosgrove Care
The All Together project brought children and young people with additional needs together to take part in a range of themed activity days and short breaks to build skills, confidence and friendships and provide a break for parents and carers. The focus was on fun, friendship and learning.
What All Together did
All Together Project was for children and young people with learning disabilities and their families in East Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and Glasgow. Some of the families already receive an outreach service from Cosgrove, many families were new to Cosgrove and learned about the short breaks work through our promotional materials and through other families social work and school. Friendship groups were supported where possible.
All Together worked with children and young people with multiple support needs. We involved families through our Family Forum to shape, review and develop the short breaks and activity days. We will worked with families to individualise short breaks, ensuring support, activities and purpose was personalised. We will consulted with children and young people through our pow wow sessions.
We will delivered a Family Day during Learning Disability Week June 2018 with a range of activities for all the family. Over 200 people came along. This was a particular success, allowing us to connect with families and share what other supports could be offered through All Together.
We will delivered two 4-day short break holidays at The Rings in Fife in July and August 2018 and a weekender break in February at Calvert Lakes. Each break supported 8 children. Calvert Lakes was different to what we had planned and worked very well, offering a good break for carers and exciting activities for young people which were fully adapted. We involved volunteers in offering additional support and Young Enterprise let us use their minibus.
We then delivered two activity days in December and February 2019 for children one will include siblings. Activity days will supported 30 children each. The activity days were particularly valued by families with positive feedback. The short breaks were for many families, the first time their children had been away. We used Whats App to keep in touch and share photographs-this was very positive.
We addressed complex needs, independence and transition to adulthood. The Project went to plan, with better than anticipated numbers for activity days and family days, meaning we have to consider venues for the future.
What Cosgrove Care has learned
Short breaks need to be planned and promoted well in advance with as much flexibility as we can offer. Word of mouth and family days brings new families in and allows them to get to know the organisation and our team. Partnerships are vital to success and optimising support we've borrowed mini buses, shared space to host events and invited others to come and speak/meet families to extend networks.
We need to offer more frequent, shorter and simpler breaks as part of the offer. Activity days are great ways to connect, consult and support. Flexibility is key as too is a skilled team and access to good volunteers. Having a range of sources of funding helps but is labour intensive.
How Cosgrove Care has benefitted from the funding
We have developed new partnerships, diversified our offer to local children and worked with public bodies to promote our work and a different way to work with families and have expanded our knowledge and gained great insight from young people and from parents. We have been able to secure other funding, and fundraise specifically to provide short breaks. We have expanded our offer to neighbouring authorities.
Children and young people with learning disabilities and their families will have accessed a more diverse range of short breaks in 2018/19, will have built new circles of friends and supports, gained confidence and skills and experienced new activities.
All Together achieved this through providing 3 short breaks at different times of the year which focused on independence, fun and friendships and supported young people to learn new skills. The families of children who took part have seen confidence grow, children have new friendships and children try new activities. The activity and family days offered variety, new activities designed to build confidence, opportunities for children and their families to meet other families, connect with other local services. Family feedback has told us that their children had not had the opportunity to go away with friends on a fun activity, try new things and that carers themselves were able to have a break, safe in the knowledge that their child was with a trusted provider. Families have come back to us asking for more short breaks, keen to build confidence and networks further.
G lives with his mum, dad and sister in Glasgow. G has autism and is 9 years old- has additional physical care needs. He had never been on holiday before without his family. G's family came to us through their social worker who was aware of All Together, suggesting that it might be a good opportunity for him and provide an opportunity for the family to have a much earned break. The Cosgrove team worked with the family to build an individualised plan for G, ensuring we understood his routine, likes, dislikes and interests. We provided a visual plan for the holiday to allow G's family to talk to him about the break. G went to the Rings in Fife with a group of other young people, he had 1:1 support and tried horse riding and visited Sensatronic Lab at a fun day- his family took a holiday nearby in St Andrews to be close and had a great break with their other child. G's mum was emotional seeing her son try new activities and was able to see what he was doing each day and hear how he was doing. G now received regular support from Cosgrove, helping his family get a rest from the caring responsibilities and enjoy time together. The family are getting to spend time with their other child, G is growing in confidence and independence and making new friends.
Carers who we support through the provision of our three short breaks will have experienced a positive break from their caring role, safe in the knowledge that their young person has had a great and fun holiday. Carers will enjoy a short break to re-charge their batteries/shop/spend time with family.
We worked intensively to gather feedback and views from families after each short break that we delivered to learn about the impact, views, ideas and evolve our approach with each short break. In addition, we gathered views after activity days to test timings, impact and get a sense of what families did with their time. This was done through survey monkey, family forums and individual sessions with families. 100% of families confirmed that the short break had given them a chance to have a break and a key factor was that families were confident that their children were being supported to have a real holiday where they would learn, have fun and the right support. 40% of carers had a break themselves though timings and arrangements proved to be an issue, 60% remained at home, spending time with other children and re-charging batteries. Key success factors include, careful individual plans, variety of short breaks/activity days, confidence in provider and good communications.
M has a learning disability and lives with her mum who is her sole carer. She has little natural supports and needed a break as she was exhausted and struggling to cope. M was supported to go on a short break to Calvert Lakes. Mum was anxious about her daughter being far away but M was keen to go on the break with two friends from school. Mum told us that she felt refreshed, missed her daughter but was delighted and emotional to see her happy and having fun. She had a positive break which she says has given her confidence to allow M to go on holiday again. She said that she simply could not go on without this kind of support to sustain her.
Carers will have participated in the Family Forums and will have had opportunities to connect with other families, a wider network of support available to them and have had a say in shaping the activities and supports that are delivered and that they will need into the future.
Bringing families together and having them central to reviewing and planning has worked very well for All Together. It has allowed us to adapt our approach, communication, planning and really understand what families want and need. Families have naturally shared experiences, tips and supported each other, we've been able to nurture friendships and connect families. The Forums allow us to plan for the future, give families a voice and ideas which we can share more widely. Over 80 families have participated with social media playing an important role in how we communicate.