A story by Animar - Bellshill & Mossend YMCA
Animar is a Saturday activity club for teenagers with additional support needs between the ages of 12-18years. We run for 3 Saturdays each month for 5 hours each session. This regular consistent service has allowed parents and carers to plan and organise their break from their caring role around the service.
What Animar did
With the excellent reputation Animar made for the service during its first year it became a lot easier to recruit for new members to accommodate the additional spaces within. Social workers and parents familiar to the project were very happy to refer young people to the project with this we had no need to advertise the project though external sources. We presented information about Animar to social work teams and to a networking conference for North Lanarkshire Council and other professional partners.
Similarly as this was the second year of funding for Animar from Better Breaks there was no need for us to recruit new staff or volunteers to our existing staff team as this was all still in place.
We continued our very successful very well received program of running short breaks 3 Saturdays a month for 5hours each with 35 in total being provided this year to accommodate us providing a weekend away at Winston Lodge. Within these sessions we encouraged the young people to become more independent and improve their social skills and abilities to work together. With Animar running on a Saturday we maintained the sole use of our dedicated childcare building and grounds. The use of this building enables us to provide a huge variety of activities both indoors and outdoors while still having close access to local transport links to help us get around for the chosen trips by our group.
Although we do not directly work with parents and carer’s through building up a relationship each week with them we have been finding out more and more how valued Animar and the break is becoming that parents are able to plan ahead around the break for an overnight break or to simply spend it with other children it has become invaluable for them knowing that their children are safe secure and taking part in activities they choose and enjoy.
The young people got a chance to show off how adept they are at this when some of our young people got the chance to represent our group and showcase what we are about and what we do with our local MP's from Bellshill and Motherwell as part of YouthLink Scotland week of action.
"It has help with his confidence helps him to interact with other children which he really finds difficult it is also helping him to do different activities which he finds difficult as well. My other son is very active lacks a lot in social skills the group is helping him to listen to instructions and also gives him confidence and is bringing out the best in him."
"Animar has given my daughter more confidence in herself and trying new things she has made great friends and feels like part of a team, her social skills have developed greatly as beforehand she was really shy and reserved. It has given her the opportunity to take part in activities which she would not have had the chance to do with us, especially the outdoor stuff! It has also given her the chance to do things for herself, making more choices (which she has difficulty doing) and organising her day."
"The children get to plan their own activities, its always different. It’s a chance to get them out and explore the world and introducing new things also gives them more confidence in their selves."
"The club has made a difference to us as parents too, it gives us a good few hours on a Saturday to do something together which we wouldn’t do if our daughter was with us. It is wonderful to see our daughter's progress thanks to the Animar club" Animar Parent.
What Animar - Bellshill & Mossend YMCA has learnedThe funding for Animar has made a huge contribution towards the overall work of Bellshill & Mossend YMCA, enabling us to continue expanding Animar and providing a valued and vital service for the local community. The whole organisation has learned from Animar in the ways we provide a service for young people with A.S.N and this has been further incorporated into other services.
Through our continuing process of having the young people decide all our activities it has allowed us to enable our service to be much more personalized to the young people and the group as a whole. A few great examples of how we have used this be more beneficial to the young people and their families was in providing a Family and Friends BBQ and in the overall planning and follow through of our weekend away with the young people to Winston Lodge. Both of these events were a huge success and it highlighted the great involvement we have from all young people and their families with over 60 people in attendance for our BBQ and everyone of our young people taking part in the weekend away including our newest members.
Throughout the year we have received many new referrals from Social workers familiar to Animar’s work and that of the wider Bellshill & Mossend YMCA. We have also taken part in Youth-link Scotland’s Week of Action where the young people of Animar met with our local MP’s to talk about our group. These events were widely publicised in local newspapers and on Youth-Links twitter. We also followed through with our young people’s idea of setting up our own twitter account.