A story by Unity Enterprise
We provided a series of 4 day breaks to young adults with multiple complex needs. As well as spending time on our barges and having trips on the canal to Falkirk, the young people took part in different activities like visiting sports facilities and museums.
This allowed their carers to have time to themselves to recharge their batteries, to devote time to any other siblings and generally relax.
What Barge Breaks did
We use our experienced staff to deliver short holiday breaks for young people with complex needs. Some of the young people are referred to us by local authority social work staff and some are our own service users.
We delivered 5 separate short breaks each of 4 days duration. A total of 21 young people took part and 38 carers benefitted. The base for the breaks was our barges which are moored at Auchinstarry Marina near Kilsyth. The programme of activities was agreed in advance, based on what the young people had told us they would like to do.
We visited local leisure centres, museums and other places of interest. The young people were keen to go to places a bit further away. We therefore organised trips to Callendar and the Falkirk Wheel and we took the train to Edinburgh to go to the theatre. The young people also had the chance to steer the barge with the skipper.
We used the time on the barges as productively as possible - teaching some basic cooking skills, running a quiz. However, we were mindful that the young people were on holiday so time was made available to watch DVDs, play computer games and just generally 'chill out'. We also took the young people out for dinner which they all really enjoyed. We were particularly lucky with the weather, which really added to the enjoyment.
The carers themselves were able to have some free time and also to spend time with other siblings and take them to the cinema and other activities.
What Unity Enterprise has learned
The fund has reminded us what a valuable resource the barges are and we hope to explore ways we can use them to the maximum. We have realised the importance of building in additional staffing capacity to ensure that staff had some free time over the course of the three days.
We have learned from carers how valuable even a short time away from caring responsibilities is and it can benefit the whole family.