A story by Cornerstone
CLASP Cornerstone supported children with disabilities and their parents/carers in Argyll and Bute. The project made available a monthly Youth Club. a weekly sports club (The Zone) One-to-one support and a monthly Parent Forum. The service supports 35 children between the ages of 5-19
What CLASP did
CLASP was utilized by 29 families during the past year 35 children and 60 parents/carers. Families have the option of accessing any or all of the elements of the service. The Sports Club - The Zone which has become very popular with an average of 20 children participating each week. These 90 minute sessions highlight a different sport each week and are available 39 weeks a year. While The Zone is in session an informal parent group gathers for a tea and a chat.
The monthly Youth Club is held on Thursday evenings. It is led by the group members with staff and volunteers providing support as needed. Group members are proud of this accomplishment as it was a goal they set up for themselves.
The Parent Forum was developed in response to parent/carer requests. It’s an opportunity for them to talk with other parents, share resources, and provide guidance to each other. During the past year CLASP has coordinated a number of workshops on Self Directed Support for the Parent Forum to help parents better understand the options that are available and the responsibilities that go along with each. CLASP has an established presence in Argyll and Bute. We have good relations with the Local Authority and social workers are very familiar with the various elements of CLASP that are available.
We adapt staffing ratios to meet the needs of the children. Some children have personal care, mobility or behavioural needs that require 1:1 staffing and a reliable pool of volunteers gives us the flexibility to enhance staffing ratios. Families and carers do various things during their respite time. As mentioned, during the weekly Sports Club, parents often gather for a cup of tea and a chat. During the monthly Youth Club families and carers enjoy an extended a break from their caring responsibilities, they maybe go out for a meal, spend focused time with their other children, catch up on chores or cuddle up with a good book for a couple of hours.
Argyll and Bute is a beautiful area but it can be isolating, especially for parents/carers of a child with a disability. The 1:1 support has been a lifeline for families needing additional support.
The boy said "this is what it feels like to be tall!" He saw things from a different outlook than his chair. He was so excited that he wanted the whole world to know what he had achieved. This highlights that no opportunity should be missed and almost anything can be accessible with the proper adaptations and supports.
What Cornerstone has learnedCLASP has learned that we must operate within budget constraints. We must maintain a balance between doing all that we can to support the children and their parents/carers and operating the service responsibly and sustainably. This involved lessons for our finance department and local and regional operations. In the past year we have learned different methods of involving the children in the planning and development of the service. Many of the children have communication difficulties so creativity and personalisation is essential!
Enabling the children to try new activities involves risk assessment and for some children or for certain activities additional staffing is required. With safety being paramount, we have learned to do a lot of careful planning to ensure we are offering the activities the children are interested in and keeping the service within budget.
We have held some fund raising events locally and learned how responsive the public is to supporting CLASP. The rural and remote parts of Argyll and Bute can be really isolating for both children and parents. The 1:1 support for families is important for the well being of the entire family.