Beachcombers Holiday Playscheme 2018
A story by Beachcombers
We provided group activities in the form of a school holiday playscheme for children and young people (aged 5-20) with disabilities/special needs and their families (carers and siblings), so they can have fun whilst carers get a break from their normal caring routine.
What Beachcombers Holiday Playscheme 2018 did
We provided various outings and activities three days a week throughout the Easter, Summer and October school holiday periods. As well as this we organised a day for carers in which they met up and went for lunch. Finally everyone went to a Christmas panto in December.
A varied schedule provided variety and and lots of fun throughout the year for both young people as well as their carers. Over the year we did many things such as den building at Findlayston Park, went to Millport, visited Stirling castle, New Lanark, Blair Drummond Safari park, went on the steam train in Bo'ness amongst other places. Days in Glasgow included trips to the pictures, going on the bikes at Glasgow Green, the science centre , ten pin bowling, visiting the museum of rural life as well as Flip out trampolines.
Carers were quite happy to take part in activities and outings and there was plenty of opportunities for carers to go off and have a tea or coffee while the young people were off taking part in activities such as the bikes, the trampolines and other activities. The activities addressed many areas such as sports and leisure activities and given the variety of activities and days out provided there was something for everyone to enjoy and take part in.
Many activities allowed for a level of independence for our young people, for example, at the trampoline we had a room for our group so the kids were able to go off and have fun and have a meeting place in the building to come back to if they needed help or somewhere to chill out. At parks and museums the young people can off in small groups as long as they know where to meet up and someone in the group has a phone in case of emergencies. This will tend to be the older children in the group. Otherwise small groups will have a supervising adult in charge. This also tries to address the transition to adulthood by giving older kids a degree of responsibility.
We try to include complex needs as much as possible by including outings that are accessible, and have an area for the group. The project was very successful with an increase in overall attendance this year and no problems arising.
What Beachcombers has learned
Project planning must take the views of carers and young people into consideration as they are the ones who should benefit from the services provided. Also learning from past projects and trying new things helps build a better service in the long run. We found in the past many young people were becoming fed up with the things on offer so with extra funding we were able to think differently and come up with new ideas. When planning new activities however, research is essential in order to have a rough figure to budget for as well as taking into account the number of service users you will be accommodating.
In regards of targeting families, the ability to work with other organisations such as schools, social work or other organisations helps as they can signpost families who they think would benefit from the service. This also applies to reaching out to new families. Our local SEN high school not only advertised on our behalf but also signposted a family who they felt would benefit from the service.
With regards to developing new activities we have found that trial and error may be a pain sometimes but it helps to try new things in order to know if it will work in the future, by trying new activities we have found some that are very popular which we now try to incorporate as much as we can such as the trampolines as well as others which did not work out so well such as the disability go karting which we would not attempt again. This year we tried a few new places which thankfully were all well enjoyed without complaint.
We found that building a relationship with other organisations helps such as our community transport providers who will do their best to work around any problems we may encounter on the day. A good relationship with others will only be beneficial in the long run, they will give us tips on new things to try or let us know if they think there may be problems with a destination we have chosen.
By learning from previous experience we did not deal with any challenges other than one when we went to Bo'ness and there was a tree on the track, it was very nearly a wasted day however it all worked out in the end. However it means there should be some sort of alternative in place for certain activities .
How Beachcombers has benefitted from the funding
The funding and support from Better Breaks has helped us build on our skills and knowledge as an organisation. As well as this we have met other very interesting organisations through funding workshops, and learnt new things. The funding has helped us build a service that is more fit for purpose for our service users rather than a service that is just something to get out of the house but not much else. Finally the service seems to be better appreciated by both the young people and their carers and they seem to get far more out of the service now that we can provide a wider range of activities.
Young people will feel more relaxed and look forward to taking part in the activities on offer and spending time with their friends.
This outcome was achieved by providing new outings and activities as well as some tried and tested. Over the years attendance had become erratic and young people were becoming bored with the activities on offer. Carers and young people were asked for input on what they would like to do and what they enjoyed doing already. Through the variety of choices on offer we were also able to satisfy outcome 5 by providing more choice and better access to mainstream activities and leisure services that may not have otherwise been accessible to many of the families. Over the course of the year attendance has improved, especially for families with a history of attending on and off. Our young people as well as our carers have been very enthusiastic about going to new places, many of which they would not see outwith the project such as the ride on the steam train and the visit to Stirling Castle.
This has been a fantastic playscheme for A as he has met new friends and enjoys the variety of activities that you do to accommodate everyone with different needs....A has expressed how much he enjoys the days out with playscheme and is looking forward to next time. A and I have visited places that we've never been to before and had a great time.' R has multiple complex care needs and is reliant for others for all aspects of personal care. 'R is sociable and has always loved being out and about with all the families. She lives in the moment and has no speech, she thrives on routine. the playscheme gives her that routine when she is not in school....R loved being out on the activities during the year especially being out and about at the seaside or parks during sunny days. The playscheme has introduced her to new activities over the years. I never though she would settle at the cinema but she was so relaxed in the recliner seat and enjoyed Mama Mia 2 and she clearly likes musicals! What is on offer is continually improved by listening to what kids and carers like doing, going back to places that work well and trying out new activities/places.' Overall attendance has improved with some families attending far more regularly than before and new families are in regular attendance.
Carers and young people will feel fitter and more healthier as well as improving on their emotional health.
This outcome was achieved by providing some activities requiring a degree of physical activity such as the trampolines, bowling, days out at the park with provision of play equipment such as bats, balls etc, as well as this there were outings where families walked about for the days in order to see the sights such as Stirling Castle, the day out to Millport, the Safari Park and the like. Activities such as the den building in Findlayston Park contributed towards positive emotional health by getting everyone to work together in groups to build dens and we had a barbecue on the day which everyone enjoyed thoroughly, especially the teens who seemed to eat the vast majority of the burgers.
A is a carer for more than just her son and the group gives her the opportunity to get away from home and away from several caring responsibilities. Without this her emotional health would go downhill. 'this is the one thing keeping me sane'. R has autism and doesn't socialise outside of school or take part in activities independently, so these various activities ensures he maintains a healthy level of fitness whilst emotionally preventing him from becoming isolated by engaging with others regularly.
Carers will be more relaxed and less stressed throughout the school holiday period. they will be less isolated and enjoy the activities and outings.
Again we provided a varied programme of activities that would engage not only young people but their carers also. We had groups of carers having their own ten pin bowling game or off to see a film they wanted to see at the pictures, there were plenty of opportunities for carers to go off and have a tea or coffee with each other while the young people took part in activities and many took part in the den building. We also ensured the carers had a day out themselves without the young people by a day out to go for lunch and give the carers and opportunity to relax, have a stress free afternoon and just enjoy being in the company of other adults. In general many of the carers feel isolated throughout the school holidays and the playscheme reduces the risk of isolation not only by getting them in the company of others but also by boosting their confidence when it comes to meeting new people and interacting with others.
Carer C said, "I couldn't live without it (playscheme) meeting up with the best bunch of people and its good for the kids" Carer K said, "The club helps me, makes feel really welcome, everyone is really nice! I have anxiety and I always get quite anxious before we meet up but once I am there I'm fine and I enjoy it, a chance to see the kids having fun and for me to talk to other adults. Can't wait to see everyone again" Without the playscheme many carers would just be stuck in a routine of purely caring for others with no time for themselves to relax and take time out. All the carers who attend have expressed how the group is a lifeline as otherwise they be simply getting by in their day to days lives of caring.
Carers will have lower stress levels and will be able to gain support from each other when they are having a difficult time. Carers will feel confident enough to be able to confide in others or advise or just have someone to listen. Carers will benefit from a break of the usual caring routine.
This is achieved through regular attendance, families getting to know each other well and being welcoming to everyone and making it clear they are not alone. Through regular attendance carers get to know each other well and the group becomes like one big family. Carers can share experiences as well as learn from others experiences and a network of carers always has information one or more people may not have known otherwise. By providing opportunities for carers to go off together for a break we also give them the tools to build friendships and find support even if its just someone to listen.
Carer A has multiple caring roles, without the playscheme she would have less time for herself. "I feel better just having people i can talk to who aren't family, things having been getting difficult so the playscheme gives me the chance to get away for the day without having to worry about what needs done" "I can just relax, have a coffee and a chat with the other parents and there is always someone who will ask how things are and how I'm getting on which means a lot it also means i'm less stressed by the time I get home"