ASN Holiday Club
A story by Disability Shetland
Disability Shetland planned, managed, organised and ran a Holiday Club for children and young people in Shetland who have disabilities and additional support needs.
The Holiday Club offered a programme of recreational, educational and social activities for six weeks a year, during school holidays.
What ASN Holiday Club did
The ASN Holiday Club operated over three days for 1 week in Easter, 4 weeks at Summer and 1 in October. Each day was divided into half day sessions (Primary and Secondary, morning and afternoon) which encourages younger children to access the service as well as offering a transition period for new referrals.
The children and young people had a good time and experienced new activities and places to explore. We worked with other services to ensure we make the most of our community assets. We worked together with Shetland Carers regarding support they provide to siblings and carers and ensuring these activities complimented each other and we worked with Shetland Family Centre Services and accessed their play expertise and resources. We worked with Active Schools and ensured we had physical activity as part of our programme, Youth Services too have resources we can access for our children through the ever popular Islesburgh Community Centre (and café!)and the Shetland Recreational Trust worked with us to provide activities to suit all our needs and we had trips out all across the Shetland Islands which included ferry trips, boat trips, play parks and beaches.
A total of 40 children attended the Holiday Club over the course of the year. Our Under 5’s group ran parallel to the Holiday Club 1 morning a week and provided a feel for our future numbers, as well as supporting transitions for future sessions. We had 2 Club Leaders coordinating the paid support workers and volunteers.
Sessions were also attended by the Team Leader or trustee each day at some point and we had the support of workers from the Autism Transition Project, family Personal Assistants and Short Breaks care staff. Overall, this gave us an average staff to client ratio of approximately 1 to 1.
All our paid staff are registered with the Scottish Social Service Council as Child Care Workers as the Holiday Club is a registered service. Staff and volunteers have all undertaken their mandatory training and are offered CPD opportunities where time allows.
What Disability Shetland has learned
The importance of positive relationships with other service providers and working together with these providers to best meet the needs of children with additional support needs and their families.
Also, having a constant presence in the media and sharing our successes and programmes with the whole of Shetland has meant we have received other funding, support from businesses in our programme and highlighted the abilities of our youngsters.
How Disability Shetland has benefitted from the funding
Due to being successful with the Better Breaks funding, we receive funding from the local authority to meet the rest of the costs. We would not be able to provide trained staff and a full and varied programme to families in Shetland without this funding. Shetland Carers also receive funding through Better Breaks and they work really well with is to ensure we are jointly offering support to the whole family during school holidays when parents and siblings are under more pressure in their caring role.
Increased numbers. Extended the range of activities. Individual care plans for those accessing club. Attendance at inter-agency reviews for children.
We have increased our numbers to 40 children and young people attending. This is a an increase from last year. Our social media presence has continued to be popular and we have over 1700 followers now on Facebook. We received referrals from more sources than previous years from other agencies and this is due to our continued inter-agency working and presence. We consulted with families to ask them what activities they wanted and what would make it better for their children to attend. We then planned programmes offering activities all over Shetland and ensuring we took into account age and ability. In addition to this, we would take an individual approach on a daily basis, always consulting with children and offering choice throughout the day. Leading up to the Holiday Club we would host training days which looked through individual care plans and included input from health professionals to ensure staff were trained in any particular conditions and medical support.
We have twin girls whose father wanted them to access fun activities in the holidays, to give them new experiences and to give the rest of the family a break from caring. He was anxious about putting the girls as they live in an island within the Shetland Islands so it is remote and travel time can be distressing and stressful for the girls due to ferry crossings and the long drive. The family were also concerned that they didn’t know any of our workers and that the girls can take time to build up a relationship with others. Both children required 1:1 support due to their needs and abilities. To support this family with accessing holiday provision we enrolled support staff who knew the children from their school in the first instance. We then incorporated a day trip to their island by working together with the organising committee of their island ‘Summer Days’ so our whole Holiday Club enjoyed going in to a different island and accessing provision already arranged by that community, promoting inclusion for the twins and their peers. By building up this relationship with our organisation, the twins could then access other days on the mainland as they would travel with their support staff who knows them and they and their parents trusted. They have continued to access the Holiday Club successfully, and we continue to work with the island community to access their mainstream holiday provision too.
Carers report that Club has benefited them. Siblings and extended family has benefited. Carers will have accessed activities when children at Club. Care Inspectorate will deliver a positive report.
Our formal evaluation responses after each session of Holiday Club are positive from parents/carers. We consult with Shetland Carers about the provision they provide during the school holidays so that our clubs offer a complete break to families and to offer fun activities and trips out to siblings too. In addition to formal evaluation we also receive daily feedback from families direct to the workers and volunteers and as we share photos of the Club on Facebook throughout the school holidays, we receive positive comments from parent/carers and extended family members. We share our planner and feedback with the Care Inspectorate each session and she too gives us positive feedback. We have been inspected once and we received all positive with no recommendations.
We meet with Local Authority Short Breaks staff during the planning stages of our Holiday Club provision so that their allocated breaks to families fits in with the Holiday Club dates, can support any transport issues and gives families a complete break in the holidays. We have three families whose respite bookings are arranged in a way that means they can have full days (including overnights) rest as Short Breaks staff transport the children with additional support needs to and from Holiday Club, during their stay.
Carers will have 18 days away from caring. Carers will be reassured they can pursue interests, knowing their child/dren are safe.
The Holiday Club continues to run for 18 days in the school holidays, where half days are an option for parent carers to choose to support with transitions. Parents have fed back that having this option has supported their anxieties around their children attending which then enables them to relax when their child is with our service. Parents have also relayed to us, directly and through school/social work, that they are grateful for the individual support and effort we put into ensuring our staff and volunteers are well trained and experienced and also that our staff are registered with the Care Inspectorate. As mentioned previously, we continue to monitor and evaluate our service with parents/carers and young people, both formally and informally and use this to inform our practice.
Carers will benefit from time they can spend in chosen activities, or in rest and relaxation. Carers will be able to share experiences and strategies with Holiday Club staff. Carers will establish and develop relationships with Holiday Club staff which will continue beyond the Holiday Club.
Parents are given dates of the Holiday Club a year in advance so they can plan their holidays around the opportunity for both child care and for activities for themselves and others in their family. This new way of giving our information beforehand has been very well received by families and allows them time to look through potential activities and time to discuss support and any additional resources that may be required for their child to attend. Before children can attend club we ask for care plans to be completed and for permission to contact other services their child accesses so we can gain child passports and any training from health, education or social care. We are invited to inter-agency meetings with parents and have opportunities to share successes and achievements with everyone involved with the child. We meet and greet parents at the beginning and end of every session so information can be passed on and shared.
In addition to our staff and volunteers, we also have support from Short Breaks staff, personal assistants through families who direct their own support, and our Transition Project staff. We ensure that children and young people are supported by people who know them and that families are comfortable and happy with. We work closely with education and have taken on school staff who have had additional training and are experienced in working with particular children. This has really helped some anxious parents and ensured that they are able to relax and rest when their child is in our care.
Children and young people will have experienced a wide range of activities, including ones that are new to them. Children and young people will have attended mainstream facilities. Children and carers will take the opportunity to join mainstream clubs and activities, following Holiday Club.
The Holiday Club accesses community facilities and venues across the whole of the Shetland Isles, including places that require ferries. Often children are visiting places they have never been before. All the venues we access are mainstream and we aim to ensure these venues are not exclusively for us, unless we require that space. We utilise community halls, family centres, leisure centres, pools, parks, outdoor centres, youth centres, shops, cafes, museums and art galleries. Many of these places children haven’t been so it not only is a new experience for them, but it also encourages parents to take them along at another time – if it was a positive experience. We work closely with other services such as Active Schools, Sport and Leisure, Shetland Library, Shetland Arts etc, as well as private business that offer arts and crafts workshops, music workshops, pony riding etc so we have a well varied and inclusive programme on offer.
As mentioned in a previous case study, this year we have accessed holiday provision in another part of Shetland to join up with mainstream ‘playschemes’ that gives children and young people with additional support needs access to different activities and experiences and promotes their abilities to members of their communities. This was really successful and we are continuing to do this again this year, the organisers have contacted us to see what activities we would like to see happen!
Carers indicate how essential Holiday Club is. Carers and families make use of the full programme offered to them. Benefits to whole family are confirmed at inter-agency meetings. Relationships within families will have been improved by children’s attendance at Clubs.
Our attendance figures speaks volumes in that we have continue to provide support to 38 children over the course of the year at Holiday Club. We have children from the age of 4 up to their 19th birthday attending. We are invited to GIRFEC and CSP meetings and school and social work are putting through queries and referrals on a regular basis as they too value the importance of the club to families in Shetland. Shetland Carers keep in regular contact with us to ensure we are providing services together to meet the needs of the whole family.