A story by Bellshill & Mossend YMCA
Animar provides support for 15 young people 3 Saturdays a month for 4.5 hours . In this time our program is planned, risk assessed and budgeted by the young people, who further their independence and giving parents/carers respite. This is achieved using a program supported by the Playback Resource.
What Animar did
The young people again chose their own activities week to week. Through consultation with the young people and families there was a focus on mindfulness, wellbeing, leisure, outdoor learning and employability sessions; with trips to locations organised by the young people using a community-local-national- model. The sessions were delivered in our centre in Bellshill, with trips starting from there and reaching as far as Dunoon this year.
When our sessions were taking place, the carers accessed local amenities, spent time with their families and extended families, spent time alone and with friends. Younger carers were particularly of benefit as they afforded time to live a typical teenager's life. Animar addressed the Better Breaks priority areas, Sports and Active leisure, with trips to local parks, cinema, swimming, relaxation, yoga and outdoor learning sessions.
Independence, sessions in budgeting, cookery, personal plans and choosing and organising the trips in P2 and P4, Transition to Adulthood with budgeting, independent travel, risk assessment, taking part in preparatory scenarios of real life situations.
A particular success story of this year was our Peer Mentor from last year, as part of his personal development, took the successor to the role under his tutelage and passed on his learning. This then supported him in performing a similar role in another additional support needs service. Ultimately, Animar achieved its outcomes in its project plan. The main challenge was not expanding our plans into an adult service, mainly due to the difficulty in the retention of quality management.
What Bellshill & Mossend YMCA has learned
One of the main challenges and learning points from delivering Animar is understanding there is still a massive need for targeting the lack of quality response to the issues of families with additional support needs. The demand for support services is huge but often the outcomes of service provision does not necessarily align with the specific needs of the family, meaning referrals often must be signposted elsewhere.
Partnership building is a must moving forward to strengthen the expertise, variety, quality, scope of service, and resolve to find these solutions. Animar in itself puts the young people at a turning point in their lives as on completion of their time within the service, we have found that there are limited positive opportunities for the young people to actually move on to.
We have found that on equipping the young people with life skills and pushing their sense of independence, the outside world is not similarly equipped to offer them the opportunities their incredible potential deserves.
With a stronger sense of partnership working with other committed individuals and groups, we have learned that it will give us greater potential to attract further longer term funding. The collaborations package together a strategic commitment and ability to create sustainability solutions, the latter being an ever present issue.
How Bellshill & Mossend YMCA has benefitted from the funding
The overall funding has seen us sustain our pilot Animar service for another year. Within our organisation we have seen our learning and skill capacity grow; we can better identify need for support, provide that support and encourage the learning to pervade our wider association. Through the support from Better Breaks and the delivery of our Animar service, the YMCA will commit to a adding quality ASN service provision to our portfolio and work towards becoming a Disability Confident Employer.
The young people at Animar will have developed positive relationships with their peers.
Animar was successful this year, in this outcome. The young people have been supported to plan and create their own service which included accessing mindfulness, relaxation and outdoor learning sessions based upon a Community-Local-National. Independent travel via bus, train and one ferry trip to Dunoon. Activities included, cinema, swimming, restaurant and museum trips included. The young people worked independently and collaboratively to budget and plan their access to new and fun activities.
J is 18 yrs old and has learning difficulties. J has been Animar's Peer Mentor for the last year. In his role a Peer mentor, J put plans in place to up-skill the successor to the role. Through conversations with the group it was decided that the position should be applied for, and a recruitment process organised by J and staff. 2 candidates, D (18 yrs old with autism) and G (17 yrs old with autism) were shortlisted and interviews were set...D was successful! J&D's first task was to organise an outdoor learning session, which they did with a local provider. This led to a 6 week outdoor learning programme in which D deputised as lead practitioner!
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role Carers and young people accessing more leisure activities independent from one another
Four young carers now access leisure activities while Animar runs. Two have joined a football team, one attends a gym and one attends a Saturday kids club. Four parents access the local gym or swimming pool. One carer accesses the local green space to walk her dog while Animar is on. Ten young people who attend Animar are accessing other clubs including, drama club, movie club, cadets, scouts, PlayPeace and Jack and Jill ASN groups. Animar has also accessed leisure sessions including yoga, relaxation, swimming and outdoor learning.
Animar parents C & L have seen the building of a new friendship blossom over the last year. L has 2 sons attending and C has 2 daughters attending. This coincidental similarity was the connection that brought the 2 together. What started initially as chatting each and then going their separate ways, grew into both organising time with one another 2 weekends each month after they had dropped the young people. They both visited the yoga teacher's class, the relaxation therapist's studio and the building friendship saw the 2 families come closer together and spend time together!
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will feel better supported to sustain their caring role An increased confidence and awareness in carer’s abilities
Based on the Solihull Approach, parents and carers are always welcomed and given time to talk. Animar runs an open door policy provided support for the whole family unit and signposting where need be. Animar has successfully built up positive relationships with carers ensuring each one is given time and attention from staff. Animar has welcomed carers feedback on what is needed to ensure they feel supported. Animar staff ensure they are aware of local services and attend VANL (Volunteer Action North Lanarkshire) meetings to keep up to date with local services within the third sector to help sign post parents who are looking for these services.
C has 2 daughters attending Animar. C's daughters suffered significant bullying at primary school and the prospect of moving on to high school and encountering the same was a huge source of anxiety for the family. After discussions with the school it was recommended that the girls move to the local high school along with the rest of the primary cohort. C and her daughters did not feel comfortable with this recommendation. After several discussions on how she and her daughters felt about this decision with Animar staff, C began to grow more confident in her instincts as to what was the correct decision for her and her daughters, and how their involvement in the process was vital. C organised an initial meeting with the headteacher to express her concerns, and be part of the process that gave them an ownership of the solutions to any upcoming issues, and a much closer and more confident relationship with the school than all had previously!