Better & Special Breaks for CCLASP Families
A story by CCLASP
We organise special breaks for our families. The children and young people we support within these families have cancer or leukaemia, a long term or incurable disease.
CCLASP support over 500 families in Scotland and the provision of special breaks is dependant on funding.
What Better & Special Breaks for CCLASP Families did
We engage at length with each family. It is our job to interpret each family’s needs and tailor a holiday to make the break relaxing and stress free. Some of our families prefer to spend the short break with other families who are caring for a very sick child because they feel less anxious travelling as a group and gain huge support from sharing their experiences with other families living through the trauma and difficulties of caring for a sick child.
Families enjoyed a three night break to Flamingo Land where they enjoyed all the activities provided by the theme park in comfortable accommodation. Some of our families prefer to enjoy a break as a family unit and not to travel with others. These families enjoyed a two or three night break to London. One of the families requested tickets for a football match which we were able to provide. Another family asked for tickets for Harry Potter World which again we incorporated into the break.
For one of the family’s transportation was a major issue, the sick child in this family unit is terminally ill so provided a mini-bus to allow them to travel in comfort with all of the equipment and medication required. The breaks have been a huge success for our families are extremely grateful to Better Breaks for supporting them at an extremely difficult time in their family life. Holidays are very important for the sick young person, parents who are carers and siblings.
It is an opportunity to escape what are often months of gruelling and relentless treatment. The family can be a family again for a few days in a relaxing and stress free environment. The healthy siblings have the opportunity to spend quality time with their parent(s) who often have to devote most of their time looking after the sick young person
We discussed Flamingo Land with her and initially she didn’t feel she could cope with the journey and the change of routine. However when we explained that transport would be provided and that she would be meeting up with other families on the break she thought she would be able to cope. Once she told her 3 children there was no going back!
We have noticed a big difference in her ability to cope since she returned from the break which she and her family described as “the best thing that has happened in our lives for a long, long time.” The break was very important to them all but also mum has now has an additional support mechanism.
Mum now meets up regularly with 2 of the other families who were on the break to Flamingo Land and in her words “the new friends I made on the holiday are now very much part of our lives. It makes a huge difference to have people to talk to who have similar worries and to know that you are not alone.”
What CCLASP has learnedWe have learned that although we have a proven track record of delivering group and personalised short breaks we are still learning from new experiences which improves future service delivery. One of our families felt that they had to pull out of the short break to Flamingo Land because the mother who is a sole carer for her son with cancer and two younger daughters had to give up work to become a full-time carer for her son. She told us that she could not justify using any money that she had to contribute towards spending money for the holiday.
We knew how badly she needed the short break and were able to offer to pay for all of the family’s spending money to allow them to participate in the desperately needed break. The Fund allowed us to do this because we had received a grant to cover the accommodation and travel costs of the family and without this we would not have been able to cover the cost of the family’s spending money. Since the family returned from the break we have received the following note from the family.
“I have to say a huge thank you for our holiday to Flamingo Land. We were all really looking forward to it but when I did the sums after having to stop work to look after Luke and his sisters I knew that we couldn’t afford our share of the spending money. We all so needed a holiday to escape the never ending stress but I couldn’t justify the expense. Thank you from all of us for making the holiday possible. We had the most brilliant time. It was the first time in a long time that I felt relaxed and the children had the best time ever. “ Family A on return from Flamingo Land.
The above is only one of many messages we have received from very grateful carers and young people that have been carer for on a very special short break.
We are finding that an increasing numbers of carers are coming to up for support including seeking a break with their families. This is because many of them are desperate to go on holiday but are anxious about having a short break with a sick young person and we now have a growing reputation for engaging with our families to ensure that we meet the family’s needs and tailor the short break to make the experience relaxing and stress free.