A story by Beachcombers
We provided short breaks in the form of a holiday playscheme for young people with disabilities (aged 5-20) and their families (carers and siblings) in the South West of Glasgow.
This also took the form of outings that provide fun and stimulation whilst allowing carers to have a break from routine.
What Beachcombers 2019 did
We provided varied outings and activities 3 days a week throughout the Easter, Summer and October holidays. In addition we organised a days for carers to go out for lunch and a day out to a Christmas panto in December.
Finally in March with remaining funds we responded to the COVID-19 crisis by preparing and delivering activity packs to the families of our young people. These were filled with various materials for arts and crafts to help keep families occupied during lock down and hopefully make life a little easier for carers as a result during difficult times.
Young people with disabilities and their families from South West Glasgow are eligible for the play-scheme and families are identified through links with local special needs schools as well as links with local Community link workers.
A varied schedule addressed priorities such as sport and active leisure by providing outings with plenty of scope for physical exercise however simple. Young people as well as carers have had access to adapted bikes through freewheel north at Glasgow Green, regular outs to trampoline parks, bowling and mini golf, farm parks as well as Edinburgh zoo and Culzean Castle. Long walks and parks, playgrounds and all the other activities and outings have made for a busy but fun year.
Older children have a level of independence in accordance with their abilities and understanding and are able to go off in small groups after a risk assessment and the assurance we are able to easily contact or find them. Other young people may go off in small groups supervised as appropriate.
Carers enjoy the outings just as much as the young people and benefit from the company of others as well as the chance to relax, enjoy the views of new places, have fun or even the chance to go for a coffee and a chat while the young people have fun with their friends.
This year we also purchased equipment such as laptop and printer for the general running of the project, however they have an added advantage as we can provide printed activities also for young people during the COVID-19 crisis.
Families had a great year as we have learned over the past few years what works for families.
What Beachcombers has learned
In terms of planning and budgeting we have learned that we need to try and factor in changes to running costs such as transport, admission fees and the like.
Also remember to factor in fluctuations in usage of your services, if you go by previous years figures for similar projects remember that usage of your services may have fluctuated and this could be down to users personal circumstances at the time but will affect running costs.
Targeting families most in need we link in with local special needs schools and community link workers, we are also open to referrals from both service users and families themselves who may have heard about our services.
With regards to developing new activities, if something is working extremely well then we are not afraid to do the same thing on a semi regular basis but we have also learned to try new things in order to find out what works and expand our choice when it comes to offering these services. We have learned that offering a varied programme ensures service users use the service more often and this is maximising the benefit for both carer and young person alike.
We have had new challenges with the COVID-19 crisis. although the crisis started just before the end of our grant period it meant we have been unable to provide a physical service during Easter. However, with funds we happen to have left over we managed to source lots of varied arts and crafts materials from fabric bags and pens, to ceramic materials and pens, beads, paper and lots of other varied materials.
Service users unable to use these kind of materials we contacted carers directly to find out what things would be useful for the person they care for and sourced materials accordingly.
How Beachcombers has benefitted from the funding
The funding has benefited our organisation by helping us to build a better service for our users. The service is used on a more regular basis strengthening our reputation with users and within the community. It has allowed us to try new things, learn what works and what doesn't and is also allowing us to learn where we could expand our services and enabled us to respond to new challenges. All this allows us to build on our skills and knowledge of how to cope with new challenges and also how to be prepared for the unexpected in the future.
Children and young people will participate in various activities together. They will feel more relaxed as well as have a larger social circle of friends. Young people will have given input as to the activities they would like to take part in and will look forward to taking part.
This was achieved by providing activities and outings that we know are successful, engaging and enjoyed by the young people. All the young people who attend always look forward to coming next time and all get on well. We never have to deal with any clashes and young people are always having fun with others outwith their own family. Young people are becoming very confident now in asking if we can visit certain places or do certain activities and while schedules are made up in advance they are also flexible with enough notice. Carers are also consulted for ideas when creating a schedule of activities and we try to provide a schedule that will provide something for everyone at some point. Apart from perhaps times of family crisis we have seen a definite improvement in attendance at the playscheme. Attendance is up overall on our previous year and more regular for all the families.
R has autism and also suffers from seizures and finds large crowds and strangers difficult to cope with. Although he doesn't take part in some activities he has become far more comfortable in being around people other than his family and now engages in conversion with his peers as well as the adults. He knows he can speak to a trusted adult if he feels uncomfortable and will sit with trusted people allowing his mum to get a break. Sometimes R just likes to watch everyone take part in activities and this in itself is fun for him. he will also go off in in a supervised group from time to time which is leaps and bounds to where he started. R enjoys the days out and loves seeing new places and looking out for lots of different wildlife when we are out and about and he takes great delight in pointing out the wildlife and telling us all about them. Before the play-scheme R used to be very uncomfortable around people other than his family and always looked to his mum for reassurance. He found it extremely difficult to engage with others but this could be difficult for his mum also who never seemed to get a minute to herself. Things have improved so much since attending the club, R is less anxious, will initiate conversation with people he is comfortable with and his mum is a lot more relaxed as a result. R will also tell us when he enjoys an outing or activity or if he didn't like it and this indicates how relaxed he is when out with the club as he can now express himself so freely.
Carers and young people will be more relaxed and less stressed out. They will look forward to attending and will have overall improved fitness levels as well as improved emotional health.
This was achieved by the variety of outings on offer. Trips to Edinburgh Zoo and Culzean Castle provided exercise in the form of long walks but these places also provided accessible transport for those unable to manage long distances meaning they could also make full use of the day and facilities on offer. Young people enjoy the days out to farm parks and zoos and they get to see all the animals and this always has a positive effect on them emotionally. Carers being able to take part in days out also means they have an opportunity to take part in exercise as well as improving their own emotional well being through a reduction in isolation and the opportunity to relax.
Carer B had this to say "The Club makes a big difference to our family: R, me and M, her mum. It reduces the level of anxiety for M and me, especially about how we are going to actively support R through the school holidays. She has no other peer group during the holidays. The Club provides the structured days, continuity and familiarity that are essential to her."
Carers will be more relaxed throughout the school holiday period. They will have opportunities to do activities and go on outing that they may not have been able to do otherwise. The focus will be on enjoying their day out and they will look forward to attending.
This was achieved not only through the provision of outings and activities for the group as a whole but also the provision of a day out for carers. Being able to get take part in activities makes a whole world of difference to the carers as it becomes about taking part in something other than caring duties. Many carers find it too difficult to organise days out with their families due to the practicalities of travel and navigating difficulties they may face when out and life can become monotonous as a result. having a day purely for carers also ensures that they can enjoy a day for themselves and feel at ease and they can relax, be themselves whilst not having to put on a show of pretence.
P as well as caring for her daughter also helps care for other family members as well as home schools. As a result she has very little or no time for herself. This also means that P is more unlikely to organise things to do outside of caring like days out for herself or the family as a whole. As time has went on her daughter is beginning to relax more and engage more with the other youngsters in the group giving mum time to chat with other parents, go for a coffee and generally just relax. Attendance is far more regular and both seem far more relaxed, less stressed and happier. Having an outing just for carers also gives P a better chance to relax and chill out in the company of other adults who have an understanding of life as a carer. It means she can be herself and having a day out is something she would not do for herself. The club gives both P and her daughter the opportunity to do things outside of home life that they would not normally have the chance to do. Both look forward to coming to the club, meeting with the rest of the group and spending time with others. They have really enjoyed the variety of outings and activities the club has to offer and this has also made a huge difference in terms of the level of attendance and engagement for both. They enjoy going to all the new places we have went to and you can definitely see the difference in terms of mood and engagement with others.
Carers will be less stressed and more relaxed. They will have support through other carers and will be able to confide in others when they need support or advice. Carers will have more quality time where they don't feel like just a carer. They will be less isolated.
This was achieved through the play-scheme provision, carers outing and the use of our closed Facebook page. The play-scheme outings take a lot of the strain from parents by keeping young people occupied as well as allowing them time with their peers. this gives carers time for themselves as adults, time to relax and time offer support to one another face to face. The carers outing also offers this opportunity. The Facebook page gives carers the opportunity to keep in contact when there are no services running enabling carers to continue to have some sort of support network on a regular basis. Many carers keep in contact on a regular basis this way. We can also signpost tips , other forms of help or things that may be of interest to carers on social media and it seems to be the best way of reaching service users when there are no physical services running.
A cares for several family members both in her own household and another. She has little time for herself and the service has been the only form of support for herself for a while. Over the past year her caring role had become more demanding and stressful and she has been in danger of becoming overwhelmed. The play-scheme has meant she has time to relax but also time to confide to others in how she is feeling and coping, she has been able to get emotional support from the group and this means she is less stressed and more refreshed when she returns home. This has ensured that on the weeks the play-scheme has been running she has been able to continue her caring duties without getting stressed and worn down. "The club has meant so much to me as I can speak to people about how I am feeling, and being able to get things off my chest means my emotions aren't being bottled up and I'm less stressed when we return home. When the carers had a day out I was so much more relaxed at the end of it. I was able to have a laugh with friends, this is something I don't seem to get the chance to do nowadays. "
Provide lots of varied activities including mainstream activities such as the cinema, bowling, trampolines that families would normally not try on their own as it may be too difficult to manage on their own.
This was achieved simply through a varied schedule of activities but also factoring in accessibility such as the reclining chairs at the cinema. When attending the trampoline park we always book in advance so that we can arrange a party room for the group. This way we can split the sessions throughout the day and have a room people can come too if it gets too busy, if parents or young people need time out to rest. This is extremely important as these types of places can become extremely busy and many of our young people are on the spectrum. Having a safe place within the building to go to for our use makes all the difference in avoiding meltdowns, or being unable to cope with crowds if areas become too busy. it also means young people can do something as simple as having their lunch without feeling rushed or uncomfortable because there is other people about.
Carer B had this to say "It does give us more opportunity as I have found some mainstream places, e.g. going the cinema, to be intimidating as these places can be busy. I have avoided them. Activities such as 10 pin bowling needs a group and would be no fun with just the two of us. Being part of a supportive group means the places don’t feel intimidating and we can enjoy being there." "We found out through the Club that R enjoys sitting in the recliner seats in the cinema (she never like sitting in her wheelchair to watch the film). She went to the cinema with her school before Christmas last year and we let them know about her preference for the recliner chair and that worked very well. We wouldn’t have known that without the Club."
Additional project outcome
Provide support during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, this was achieved by making activity packs to help keep young people occupied whilst stuck at home.
For all of our service users as well as the whole country this is proving to be very difficult times indeed. This can be especially true for carers. Having activity packs means young people have something to while stuck at home, this is especially true for young people who may not have have access to a garden and helps carers get some free time also where appropriate.