A story by Volunteering Hebrides- Befriending Lewis & Harris
We provided a group of cared for people and carers a three-night break to Perth, away from their remote island surroundings, to enjoy four days of activities, trips, company and relaxation whilst enabling carers who did not attend to take a break whilst their cared for person was with us.
What Befriending Away did
We took a group of cared for people/carers to Perth in September, enabling them to have a relaxing holiday, travelling by ferry/coach with trips to Blair Drummond Safari Park, Scone Palace, Perth, garden centres and cafes. In the evenings we gathered together and enjoyed playing games and socialising.
Potential participants were selected based on need, likely impact, as well as ensuring they did not have personal care needs we would be unable to meet.
Additional carers benefitted from time to themselves whilst their cared for person was away, doing things they would not usually be able to do.
We took wheelchairs and a project car with us to assist people with mobility issues and support those who needed to stop more frequently. This was invaluable in helping everyone to get the best from the trip and relax, knowing their needs were met. Prior to the trip, we held regular afternoon teas so participants could get to know each other and help to plan the trip.
We addressed the following Creative Breaks principles: Mutual Benefit- Carers/cared for people helped plan the trip– we tried to fulfil their expectations in every way. Carers enjoyed time to themselves to recharge. Cared for people also had increased opportunities for conversations, new experiences, saw things they would not otherwise see, had adventures they would never otherwise have enjoyed.
Personalisation- we ensured needs and desires were met. Targeted Support- Discussions over medications/mobility support/emergency care etc were held throughout. Adaptations were made in response to individual need. Adding Value- Our Creative Break was unique, designed by participants, delivered by staff/volunteers. It created an opportunity that doesn’t otherwise exist for people to have a holiday to the mainland.
Developing Knowledge- We learned more about how to support carers/cared for people; we will share this throughout the third sector in our area, as well as with partners in health/social care. The trip was a huge success- everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and every carer/cared for person involved reported positive impacts.
What Volunteering Hebrides- Befriending Lewis & Harris has learned
We learned how to deal with unexpected challenges- several situations occurred in the period immediately before the trip which presented additional challenges to individual people participating. However, we were able to find creative solutions, including partnership working with other support organisations during our preparations in order to help meet peoples' needs and would be able to do this before future trips if needed.
On arriving back from the trip, we realised that because the time away had been so enjoyable and special, there was a need to support people back into their usual routines and we developed some additional social opportunities to bring the group back together in order to do this. When planning future trips, this will be taken into account.
The group who benefitted from the trip was quite diverse, both in terms of their demographics and in terms of need. We learnt ways of adapting activities, sometimes responding to immediate changes in peoples' needs and desires to ensure that everyone got the best from the time away. The learning from this trip will help us to pre-empt some of these potential needs in advance for future planning.
How Volunteering Hebrides- Befriending Lewis & Harris has benefitted from the funding
The funding that we received enabled us to increase our capacity to make a really positive impact in the lives of carers and cared for people in our remote island community, giving them an opportunity to travel to the mainland and take part in activities that would not normally be possible for them. We could not have done this without the financial support received from Creative Breaks funding. The positive feedback from those involved in the trip was overwhelming and clearly demonstrated its life-changing impacts. Many of those who came with us had not been off the island since before the pandemic. It has strengthened our organisation's reputation and has led to increased trust from those that we support which will lead to us being better able to support their needs as well as attracting new people to come and benefit from involvement in our projects.
6 carers attending the trip will have had a memorable and fun-packed few days which will have taken their mind off tasks and life at home. 6 carers staying at home will have had a relaxing break in their own surroundings, doing things that they’re not always able to due to their caring role.
This outcome was fully achieved. Every carer who attended the trip reported having fun and making memories, building new supportive connections with others whilst those who remained at home were able to rest and recharge or take a trip away with friends or family which they would not have been able to do otherwise, knowing that their cared for person was safe and happy with us.
One of the carers who attended the trip spends most of their time, in their caring role, needing to give support and supervision to their cared for person and basing their activities on the cared for person's interests and needs. The trip away gave them the opportunity to build new supportive social connections, enjoy experiences which they would not usually be able to have and relax, knowing that their cared for person was happy and safe. They have received a boost to their own wellbeing and have social connections that will benefit them into the future, beyond the period of the trip.
12 carers report having a more positive outlook on life, feeling less stressed and/or more energetic. 16 cared for people report having increased confidence and self-esteem and feeling more included in their community.
This outcome was fully achieved. 100% of the feedback that we received following the trip was really positive, showing that each person involved had thoroughly enjoyed the experience, that new friendships had been formed and those who attended had felt a sense of community with other participants which then extended beyond the time away. Many of those who attended the trip have now been more confident and motivated to get more involved/participate for the first time in community activities and to be more confident in engaging with project staff. We know that many of the friendships formed on the trip have now led to longer lasting supportive relationships which has increased peoples' feelings of self-esteem and confidence and has reduced loneliness and social isolation.
One of the cared for people who attended the trip had experienced various challenges in their life in the months leading up to it and felt lonely. They had been adversely affected by the pandemic as their opportunity for social interaction in a group setting had been reduced. They would not have been able to travel to the mainland independently due to their additional support needs and lack of confidence. They thoroughly enjoyed their time away. They took part in all of the activities and, every morning, were dressed and ready to go before the time arranged for meeting up. They sat with other participants in the evenings and played games, enjoying sharing a joke. They made new friends and began initiating conversations with staff, volunteers and participants whom they had not known very well previously. Following the trip, they began initiating contact with project staff for the first time having chats which often began with reminiscing about memories from the trip but would lead to opening up to their Befriending Coordinator about their needs and feelings. They have continued their contact with those they met on the trip and now interact independently of us, as well as attending more community social events, improving their wellbeing and enabling the project to better support their needs as they are more confident about approaching staff.
Additional project outcome
Increased empowerment and strengthening the organisation.
Through the trip away, stronger relationships have been developed with those who participated which has led to the organisation being better able to meet their needs. New opportunities have been identified for supporting carers and cared for people due to beneficiaries being more confident in expressing their needs and ideas. This has included additional social evenings being developed. This trip was our first one since the pandemic and it has developed the organisation's understanding of ways that we could improve our provision for future trips and how best to meet the needs in our community.