Barnardo's South East Scotland Locality - Disability Services Outdoor Activity Breaks
A story by Barnardo's Scotland
Our project has so far delivered eight activity days, two residential breaks and is in the process of delivering activity days leading up to a third residential break which will take place in February 2014. We are also planning our siblings group break.
One of the groups was planned in conjunction with West Lothian Council through their supplemental funding. We had several young people join us for the day trip element and not the overnights, so the breaks were designed specifically to meet their needs.
Tip 1:Ensure that you are offering a service that families want - use every opportunity for consultations including informal feedback from conversations with parents to develop your project plan.
Tip 2:Be imaginative in planning and listen to the service users for ideas.
Tip 3:Be creative in service delivery - flexibility is key.
A's mum watched as he marked on the calendar his trip with his friends, and packed his own clothes for the outdoor activities. She described waiting for him to come back from his adventure as an opportunity that she doesn't get to experience much. When A got off the bus he wore a "huge smile" and chatted excitedly all the way home. A told his mum about his favourite activities - "puddle jumping was FANTASTIC!...And spaghetti bolognese was yummy". He can't wait for the residential weekend to come around. A is looking forward to the next adventure and his parents to the stories from it.
C has loved the residential breaks. Initially, during our parent consultation, his mum felt C lacked the independence skills to enjoy the residential aspect. Through working with us C, and his mum’s, confidence was raised to allow him to stay overnight, and he has enjoyed every second spent at Wiston Lodge. Mum has thanked staff for “convincing her to try it!” C likes the fact it’s “like the cowboys”. C attends our youth group but receives no other service, so his family would otherwise never have experienced overnight respite.
The instructors are now more confident with supporting our young people. N has really enjoyed “trying new things” and with support from the instructors she was able to achieve things like climbing the pole, despite being afraid of heights. Her mum could not believe it, but said “she had a really good time and is very keen to go back”. Staff are keen to work more with us in the future.
We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from all families involved in the project, and the staff and instructors have had a fantastic time watching the young people learn new skills, experience new things and making new friendships during their visits to Wiston Lodge.
We also personalise each break to the likes and dislikes, needs and abilities of the groups attending, which means that every visit is different as they decide what they want to do when there. This is the case down to the meals that they eat - dietary requirements and preferences are fully catered for. The more involved the young people are in the planning, the more they enjoy their time at Wiston Lodge.
Through our joint planning with West Lothian Council and their matched funding we were able to offer the opportunity to some families who were not previously known to us. We are continuing to work on a strategy to ensure we can do this further in future breaks.
We would like to thank Shared Care Scotland for their support throughout the planning and application process and for allowing us to be part of the lucky group of successfully funded organisations. The positive experiences that our families and young people have shared are down to this fund, and many people have benefited as a result.