A story by Beachcombers
We provided outings and activities in the form of a holiday playscheme for young people aged 5-20 with disabilities and additional support needs and their families (carers and siblings) they could have fun and socialise while carers have the chance for a break from everyday caring routine.
What Beachcombers 2020 did
Due to Covid-19 we were unable to provide playscheme activities at all throughout the year.
As a result we had to look at other ways to support families.
We decided to provide activity packs for families throughout the year. this would help give young people something to do during the holidays as for the most part families were resigned to staying at home.
Activity packs were varied and contained a variety of things such as books, DVDs, music, board games and arts and crafts materials such as paint your own pottery, jewellery making, scrapbooks, painting and colouring supplies etc.
These were delivered to each family. Carers were consulted throughout the year in order to try tailor packs to families needs as much as possible.
Services were provided to families that were currently registered with the organisation. Families registered for our services have young people between the ages of 5-20 with additional support needs. We do however aim to support the family as a whole including siblings and carers.
After consulting with Shared Care Scotland it was agreed that we could use the bulk of our funding to provide a caravan holiday for families to place in 2021. Given the unpredictable nature of lockdowns and local lockdown rules the caravan holiday was pushed back from April 2021 to July 2021.
We did manage to successfully deliver a caravan holiday to 14 families in July of 2021. Families enjoyed a seven day caravan holiday in Berwick Upon Tweed. It was a well needed break for everyone involved given that we were unable to operate during the Easter holidays of 2021. This meant that the young people involved had not been able to make use of our face to face services or see their friends from December 2019 until the end of June 2021. December had been our last group outing for service users.
Given the difficulty in being able to operate, the main priority area we addressed during this period was the provision of sports and active leisure.
Our initial project was unable to go to plan due to COVID. We were able to provide some form of support throughout the year for families as well as a holiday after a very difficult year.
What Beachcombers has learned
The delivery of the project this year presented many challenges especially in the midst of a lockdown. We like many other organisation have had to look at new ways of supporting people, especially when you cannot provide physical services.
We have learned how to think differently regarding providing services (what other forms of support can we offer), how to deal with challenges such as restrictions to transport, booking activities for groups and such.
We have also learned how to look at different options when projects cannot go as planned at all and how to deal with these challenges. Finally we have learned to try and have a back up plan so that when challenges arrive we don't panic and are able to deal with difficulties as they arise.
How Beachcombers has benefitted from the funding
Unfortunately the was no opportunity to develop our services further as being completely volunteer led most volunteers were trying to deal with their own issues throughout the year. The funding ensured we could provide some sort of service for families throughout the ongoing pandemic. We did learn how to think differently and how to provide a service in other ways as well as building on our skills and knowledge.
30 young people will attend regularly and take part in all the activities offered. They will build friendships, engage with others and enjoy the activities they are doing.
Unfortunately COVID laid waste to our project. As we operate during school holidays we were unable to provide a face to face activity service until July 2021 due to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions. However we did provide activity packs to families in order to keep young people occupied when we were unable to operate. Throughout July 2021 as our funding period had been extended we managed to provide both playscheme activities as well as a caravan holiday. Due to booking restrictions we were limited as to what activities we could provide. We did manage to visit Heads of Ayr farm park, went to the pictures twice, visited Stirling Castle, various parks and Kelvingrove museum. The young people also met up when they could at the caravan park given that the weather was fabulous the week the holiday took place.
D has had a difficult year. Throughout the year as well as dealing with the changes in how every day life changed due to COVID, his grandmothers dementia worsened greatly. This was making an impact on his wellbeing. The activity packs which were tailored to his interests made a huge difference in giving him a distraction and gave him the opportunity to try new things such as clay modelling and painting. The holiday in July was also a chance for him to relax away from home and have some fun with familiar faces that he hadn't seen in a long time. He took every opportunity to hang out with the other young people that were there.
Carers will have had the opportunity to take part in the activities on offer, engage with other adults without the pressure of constantly being on call and be able to go and have time to themselves. Carers will look forward to playscheme as much as their young people.
Again COVID put a halt to our normal activities. We did consult with parents regarding activity packs so that families would receive items of most use to them. This meant that carers could perhaps get a break at home if young people had activities to keep them occupied. This is why we included items such as DVDs, music, books if requested. Carers did manage to have a holiday and the opportunity to meet up with other carers during the holiday as well as during playscheme in July. Everyone was glad to meet up and have adult company for a change and a chance to chat and catch up.
C felt the packs helped a lot in keeping the kids occupied and feels there was some great activities such as colouring in, sand art and bubbles which her kids loved doing. The family loved the caravan holiday and felt it was a great place to relax. As a whole C does a lot for her family in trying to keep the kids happy and occupied. The packs took away some of the stress of thinking of new things to do during lockdown and also meant she could have some time to herself when they were busy. The holiday also meant she could catch up with other parents while some of the kids were away playing. Having support from other parents meant she wasn't on call 24 hours a day meaning she could get the chance to relax. This meant she could enjoy the break away from home and her usual routine.
Carers will be less stressed and more relaxed throughout the holiday period. They will be able to have a support network with the other carers and will feel at ease enough to confide in others when they need to. Carers will feel less isolated and can hopefully build on this on a personal level.
Carers were able to keep in contact through our Facebook page but as well as this many now keep in contact out with the organisation having met through our services. This meant they could message or keep in touch and offer each other support even if it was just a chat over the phone. This has meant a lot to carers especially during lockdown. Being able to meet up during playscheme in July was a big boost to carers. Initially almost everyone was extremely nervous and anxious meeting up. After a few of playscheme days however carers and young people felt more relaxed and were more able to enjoy the company of other people without feeling as anxious as they did before.
D has found lockdown difficult and has been feeling more isolated so being able to get out of the house and getting away for a holiday made a huge difference to her. She has a strong friendship with one of the other carers so going holiday and attending playscheme meant they could get out and about together a lot more than they would have done otherwise. This meant both carers could support each other as well as have a chance to relax and enjoy a break.
Young people and their carers will be less stressed, more relaxed and will have better health both physically and mentally
Carers would have been extremely stressed throughout lockdown especially when everyone was asked to stay at home and not visit relatives, friends or socialise. By providing activity packs we relieved some of the tensions of trying to keep young people occupied while hopefully giving carers the opportunity to relax, even if it was to sit down with a cup of tea. The holiday meant both carers and young people had the chance to relax, have fun and not worry about everyday life. For nearly of of our families this holiday was the first break away from home in over a year and a half. For many families this holiday break was the first in a few years or more. The caravan site was chosen due to its close proximity to the local town which is in walking distance, the fact it is not overly busy which suited the majority of our young people many of which have autism and its beaches, again in walking distance. This meant families could meet up at the beach or go for walks as well.
R and her family are quite new to our organisation. She struggled to cope some days before joining and found her patience begin to wear thin. The packs helped immensely as the kids love arts and crafts and so found loads to do with the materials provided. Jigsaws and board games were also great for keeping them occupied. Being back at playscheme and the caravan holiday was great for the kids as the kids could have fun with their friends and do lots of different things but the main point being they had other kids to spend time with other than their siblings and sometimes this can make such a difference. They made full use of the caravan holiday and were out playing every day. Both R and the kids enjoyed being in the company of other people which meant everyone was less grumpy or stressed all round.