A story by Beachcombers
Beachcombers playscheme ran for 3 days a week during school holiday times for children and young people with additional support needs living in South West Glasgow. Transport was provided for outings outwith the playscheme and the carers were able to accompany the child or young person to enjoy this experience together.
Beachcombers have extended the service to young people between the ages of 18 – 20 and their families to provide some sort of transitional service to young people moving into adulthood.
What Beachcombers 5-20 did
Our project provided various outings and transport for both young people with support needs and their families. The playscheme ran three days per week throughout normal school holidays as well providing several outings outwith our normal operating days. Both young people and their carers participated in these outings. We provided numerous activities such as trampolining, days out at parks, beaches, the cinema, bowling, rollerskating, soft play, cinema as well as a day at the theatre and various other activities.
Participants included current playscheme members as well as new families after we advertised our services through a local special needs school. In order to evaluate what services would be suitable for our young people we consulted with parents as well as taking the views of young people into account whether it was verbally or through mediums such as social networking.
Our project made use of local resources such as local community transport in order to deliver our services and make them accessible to all. We also purchased outdoor play equipment that we could use in the parks and at the beach in order to engage both the young people as well as carers and provide fun as well as healthy days out. We have also tried many mainstream activities that families would not normally try and some of the activities have been very successful.
Our project delivered on many priorities, our young people where able to take part in various fun activities whilst also improving their well being through exercise, socialising and support. Carers also benefited from improved well being through exercise, being able to socialise as well as having a support network through other families.
The project has also given parents and carers a chance to reflect on how their young people are able to cope in different environments and around different people which gives them the chance to look at changes they could make in order to help both the young person and the carers also.
What Beachcombers has learned
We have learned that research is essential with regards to project planning and budgeting. It is essential to try and plan activities well ahead of schedule in order to properly research costs especially when applying for grants.
Reaching out to new families can be done in partnership with schools and community services if you are able to establish some sort of relationship and make it clear what it is your service offers and explain how you operate. We worked in conjunction with a special needs schools to advertise our organisation so families could get in touch.
In order to target the families most in need of your services working in conjunction with outside organisations such as schools and community workers can be advantageous. We had a referral made to our organisation for a young person who both the school and community worker felt would greatly benefit from the service.
developing new activities is we have found really just a matter of trial and error. we tried go karts and roller skating for the first time, both of which we deemed were too challenging for our young people, the trampoline park however was a huge success and we have visited there several times now.
30 young people took part in various activities such as go-karts, roller skating, outdoor games made accessible regardless of disability, this will improve their self esteem and provide social stimulation and the activities delivered were fun and stimulating.
The outcome was achieved by providing a variety of activities such as go karts, trampoline park, roller skating, visits to farm parks, beaches, parks, the pantomime and many others. Young people were encouraged to try lots of different activities including sports games together on days out to the beach and the park. They also took part in an animal handling session at the zoo and the trampolines proved a huge hit with all the young people.
Richard has Autism and does not socialise outside of school. he can be wary of joining in with new activities and at home prefers his own company. With access to this service Richard engaged with others far more and is trying new activities. While he does not go to the shops on his own at home or go out, when he is at the playscheme he will go off with friends and go and do things himself such as go for a walk or go to a nearby shop. His self esteem and confidence has improved greatly and he looks forward to our days out as a group.
20 carers in South West Glasgow will have improved well-being and reduced stress levels.
This was achieved to the fullest possible capacity by providing activities that were not only fun but provided moderate exercise and plenty of fresh air. We had many outdoor trips to parks, beaches, the zoo and a farm park which encouraged families to walk about, play games or in play parks. Activities such as the trampolines, bike rides and roller skating also encouraged activity that was fun whilst also providing very good exercise. It is also encouraging that young people can go off and take part in activities with or without carers giving carers a break to chat or and relax.
Catrina* has a teenage son his needs can be quite demanding, he finds it difficult to engage with others and prior to attending the playscheme would only engage with his mum. With 2 younger children also Catrina* can find it difficult to get a moment to herself. Since accessing the service her son now engages with others, will participate to a far greater extent than before and can have time out with a trusted adult when needed. Although he still finds it difficult to engage he will make an attempt and also make his needs known if he feels overwhelmed or anxious. His mum gets a break from caring for her son, can have time to herself or spend time with her other children knowing her son will be fine for a while without her input and this has resulted in far lessened stress levels which benefit the whole family.
20 carers attended outings with the children/young people they care for. This gave them the opportunity to socialise with other carers. the more time the young people being cared for spend in each others company, the less strain is on carers to keep them occupied.
This was achieved through the provision of various different outings and activities offered. During the holidays it can be difficult for carers to find things to keep their young people occupied whilst also carrying out caring duties. Organising transport can be an added burden on parents between finding things to do, getting there and any additional preparations that need to be made. The provision of transport and the organisation of activities and outings means carers are free to enjoy their day.
Brett cares for his daughter who uses a wheelchair and who is reliant on others for everything from eating to personal care and trying to understand her needs as she is unable to communicate for herself. The holidays pose a challenge for Brett as days out means organising lunch, himself and his daughter and everything needed for a day away from home, it can be physically demanding and that is before they get anywhere. The provision of transport and the organisation of days out reduced the burden on Brett. Although his daughter is limited in what she can do she clearly enjoys the company of others. The support of other carers also means that Brett has the opportunity to go for a coffee and have a chat or a break. Without this service both would likely spend a great deal more time stuck at home during the holidays and far more isolated.
20 carers in South West Glasgow benefited from shared experiences as well as the experience and advice from others in their role as carers. Carers are on hand to offer support and advice to each other.
Carers working together to ensure that they all had the chance to go off and have some time to themselves whether for a coffee or a chat. Providing activities and places to go where it was safe for the young people to go off and have fun with limited supervision also helped to offer carers the opportunity to have time to themselves. Places such as the farm park in Ayr which is enclosed, beaches and parks where two or more carers can supervise while others get a break ensure that parents and carers can get some much needed time to themselves. The support that carers can offer one another is also an invaluable and under estimated tool in how carers can find out useful information and about services that can help them in their caring role.
Lisa cares for her son who has Autism and also for her partner long term as well as provide care and support for other family members. As a carer Lisa has very little time for herself and the past year has seen extra stress that she was unprepared for at times. Without the playscheme it is highly unlikely that she would be able to organise a break for herself, the group is the only real time she has when she does not have the burden of caring duties. Support from other carers has been invaluable to her and being able to relax and get a chance to breathe means she is better prepared to cope with the stresses of caring for others.
30 young people and 20 carers had the opportunity to do a variety of activities that they may not normally do for fear it was not suitable. These activities included go karting, roller skating etc, and with transport provided it was easier to access services not normally accessible to some.
By researching activities that were available and where and how different places could make things more accessible for our group. We tried disability go karting and laser tag. Although the go karts were still a bit difficult for many of our users to navigate, changes could be made to the laser tag such as turning down the music and leaving the doors open to allow more light in and make the experience less daunting for those with sensory issues. The trampoline park kindly provided us with a room we could use for lunch but it also meant that when the young people needed a break they could come into the room and be away from large crowds of people as it tends to be extremely popular and busy throughout the school holidays. The roller skating also proved a little difficult but there was staff on hand to help. Transport provision also ensures that families without access to a car have the opportunity to do things that would otherwise prove out of reach.
Joseph* has Autism but loves to go somewhere or do something every day. He does however need supervision and support, so finding things to do every day is a challenge for his mum and having no access to a car makes it more difficult. Having the group activities and outings breaks up the holidays for the family and the provision of transport expands the scope of activities and services available to them than if they were to organise things themselves. Being in a group also means that Joseph* is able to do things with friends his own age. It also means he can try new things and visit new places. As a family they would be limited in what they can do during the holidays if the service was not there.
The project gave 30 young people and 20 carers the opportunity to take part in short breaks that meet their needs and provide stimulation, support and respite from the stresses of everyday life and caring.
Was achieved through consultations with carers and also through listening to the views of the young people involved. Carers met up for lunch in order to discuss what they wanted from the service and what they felt would benefit the young people they care for. The children and young people are also becoming far more confident in making their views heard and coming forward to say where they would like to go or what they would like to do. By listening to the views of carers and young people which are essential in providing a service that meets their individual needs, we encouraged everyone to give as much input as possible.
Most of the group have been able to forward some sort of input regarding what they would like from the service. This has a positive impact for everyone as we can try and tailor a programme that suits the needs of everyone in some way or another.