A story by Lothian Autistic Society
Basecamp 2 builds on our popular model, offering children and young people an innovative new pathway to success. The project prepares children and young people for transitions to take part in new activities and gain valuable life skills.
What Basecamp 2 did
We worked closely with local authorities to identify the children and young people in most need of support from our project. It was important that we recruited staff and volunteers from the local community as a large portion of the project was focussing on accessing community based facilities and services in which to transition young people.
We focussed on setting individualised goals so that children and young people were able to succeed, building their self-confidence and self-esteem in a supportive and person centered way. We offered group work sessions and one to one support. Parents and carers were involved in setting goals and were involved in the progress their child in the project.
Staff met with families to review their goals and to find out how the project had helped them with respite support. Some families reported being able to spend more time with siblings, others spent their time catching up on household items that they never got a chance to do while others found time to go off and do something for themselves, having 2 hours of 'me time' as one parent described.
Julie stated that she felt the difference for herself and her son Conrad almost immediately. Since starting the project Julie has been able to spend more time with her other son as caring for Coll takes up a lot of her attention. Julie stated that Conrad is “a changed child”. Prior to starting Saturday Club Julie states that he struggled to deal with his emotions and could lash out. This made it very difficult for him to access mainstream clubs and groups but she knew he had it in him to do more if he had the specialised support and knowledge.
More so, Julie said that by having a happy boy coming home, helped her. Whilst Julie said that Conrad attends other mainstream clubs she still feels on edge and usually goes home waiting on the phone call to come that he needs to be picked up as something has gone wrong. "This was not the case with Basecamp 2, it was amazing - it is a huge sigh of relief and a weight off her shoulders"
Conrad's twin, Jake, plays football and for the first time in a year was able to go and watch him play. This meant so much and was just as good as a spa day out for me said Julie. Jake was so delighted and it made such a difference to our whole family. Julie said, "The caring role has become manageable but I feel good too"
The project lead for the West Lothian Basecamp 2 Project reported that it took Euan a little longer to settle in the group and his one to one hours were increased. His ADHD required more time to be spent settling him into the project and looking at ways of burning his energy. Euan did not have any friends to speak of and when asked about the things he liked it was all activities relating to things he did with his Mum.
Euan was desperate to make friends and gradually through some themed activities and putting Euan in charge of decisions over group activities his personality changed dramatically. He was first in the door and last to leave, he volunteered even when there was not a task to do. After two months at the project, Sylvia said that what she gained from the project was seeing Euan's happiness and how independent and confident he had become.
Sylvia said that this had improved their relationship and built up his confidence so much he wants to try new things and not always with her. "I feel I can be Euan's Mum now he has so much more confidence, rather than being his friend". He is taking part on a school play at the end of term, something I would never have thought possible.
Ruby is also very conscious that it is not cool to go out and about with your Mum and Dad and this has become quite an upsetting things for her family and they are spending as much spare time as they can looking at ways of supporting Ruby.
Ruby was referred by her school to the project and required one to one support initially to access the club. Ruby was concerned about leaving school and wanted help with finding a job but quickly staff worked with Ruby to look at ways of engaging in her local community so she could identify what types of areas of work she might like to consider. Her family felt instantly involved as they had developed a good network of friends in the community and helped us with linking to local organisations.
After 8 months, Ruby gained confidence and made friends at the project. She was the only girl but that turned out well for her as she was the most popular person at the club amongst 10 other boys. Ruby made friends with Ethan and as part of his community challenge he decided he wanted to volunteer in a charity shop. As their friendship grew, Ruby also made an application and now volunteers, with support, once a month at her local charity shop. This has enabled her to gain skills, confidence and a sense of achievement.
Ruby's family are delighted and feel that things are falling into place now. Ruby is still not keen to go out shopping with her parents but for them this is progress and as Ruby's Dad said, "it has also given us pride and our 'worry time' is put to better use". "Things can only improve and the relief my wife and I feel is tremendous"
Kerrie says that this is the first time Nathan has been able to be himself without anyone bullying or judging him.
What Lothian Autistic Society has learnedWhen we established the project we thought that the format and framework of the project was good. Not long into the delivery of the project we decided to introduce an award scheme that the young people could follow, set goals and be recognised for their achievements. This was an astounding success. So much so that the awards are now a stand alone project and the organisation is looking at how we can develop this further.
We also learnt that delivering the project during the winter months and during the time that many of the young people were studying for their exams was not good. This was more about bad timing than anything else but we have taken this on board in terms of checking things like school exams so we can build this into our planning in the future.
We learnt that parents were more keen for us to deliver the project than them becoming involved in goal setting and considering their child's progress. It was far more important to them to have a trusting relationship with us and for them to see the difference the project was making to their child and the improvements they saw that in turned helped the parents and wider family with their caring role. In the future we will look at our outcomes and adjust them accordingly.
We worked well with Local Authorities and some schools to take referrals. If we had not done this we certainly would not have reached as many young people in greater needs and those with multiple support needs. We reached some single parent families that were not on our database of contacts and 80% of the young people that paprticipated in our project were not previously known to us.