A story by Bellshill & Mossend YMCA
We provided Saturday clubs 3 times per month in Orbiston YMCA in Bellshill, for young people aged 12 -18 years and who have additional support needs.
Our Animar project for young people with additional support needs is an independence promoting group that focus on 5 strategic areas, Family, Learning, Environment, Peers and Community.
What Animar did
Animar has continued to provide a regular short break for the young people and their families over 36 sessions of 5 hours. During the Animar sessions not only have the young people developed and utilised their skillsets, their parents have also managed to use this time to expand on their own interests and subsequent use of leisure time.
Examples of this are, parents who meet while Animar is on and use the local leisure facilities together, parents spending more leisure time together enjoying lunches, trips to the cinema and shopping. Another aspect of this respite is being able to invest more quality time with siblings or young carers, one of the young person’s siblings has now joined a football team as their mum now has free time to take him whilst Animar is on. This has had an improvement on the whole family’s well being.
Over the last year we have worked hard to ensure the young people attending Animar are more aware of how to access and risk assess the community around them, to allow them to engage with it as best possible. This allows whole family unit to go to new places, experience new things, confident the young people are ready for these challenges
However since joining the Animar Project, Christopher and Gemma have formed a friendship which allows them to relax and develop their social skills. Christopher and Gemma’s Mothers also have broken down their own isolation and when Animar is on, they both meet up and attend the local gym together or grab a coffee. Gemma and Christopher’s mums now have a bigger support network available to them due to their respite time at Animar.
In Animar's outdoor area, we have a campfire area. The Animar staff decided to use this area to teach Daniel fire safety. It was decided that telling Daniel not to light fires would not work, however to set rules in place for fires would allow Daniel to fully understand where he could and could not use this interest. We involved the fire brigade we had the community officer to deliver a session on fire safety.
We ourselves delivered a program on the correct ways to build, maintain and put out a fire. We gave Daniel the title of fire safety warden. When we have campfires, Daniel always ensures they are done correctly and safely whilst following fire safety risk assessment and procedure.
This has removed a lot of stress in Daniel’s parent’s lives. They now have a trust in him where he is allowed to, safely, burn their letters and mail in their back gardens stove. Now Daniel is happier as he feels respected and valued as his interest is important and he knows how to keep himself and everyone else safe.
Cameron approached the staff asking if we could have more baking and cooking sessions as he had realised his goal was to be in the catering industry upon leaving the educaton system. After having an external company coming in to provide a session, the young people were left disappointed at the standard presented to them.
Cameron felt that after what he experienced he realised he could have delivered the session better. This realisation led Cameron to believe that his interest in catering could become a transferable life skill that he could best utilise for his future.
What Bellshill & Mossend YMCA has learnedAnimar staff have learned a great deal through the funding received. We are now more aware of the importance of evidencing all we do and have restructured our delivery of the Animar service to ensure everything we have done has been evidenced and supported. This has had a ripple effect throughout all services that run from the same building as Animar. We are now working more in partnership and learning from each other practices and strengths.
We encountered challenges throughout the year, including the realisation that Animar wasn’t offering the correct support for a young person and her family. Through our partnership work with other Additional Support Needs services we are able to support and help that family find a more suitable project for their daughter. This was a difficult matter to address and through our continual evaluation of our practice we have come to the realisation we have discovered it would have been more effective to find a resolve this issue earlier than we did. The full staff team has progressed in their development through this issue.
Each young person now has their own PSD plan and key worker, so each of our sessions are based on the young people’s goal setting and personal development. The young people are at the centre and fore front of every activity and plan we do. Animar is personalised and tailored to the needs and want of the young people attending.
At Animar we noticed a lack of diversity. We had limited minority groups attending our service. Animar has recently recruited an excellent volunteer. This volunteer has a rich cultural back ground to support our link within hard to reach communities.