A story by Cornerstone
CLASP supported children and their carers living in Dunoon and the surrounding areas by organising a range or group and individual activities for children while their carer had a break.
All the carers supported had children who have life long conditions which affect multiple areas of their lives.
What CLASP did
We supported carers by organising regular activities for their children. Namely these were our fortnightly youth club and weekly sports club. The youth club gave the children an opportunity to socialise and to try new activities. Our project workers encouraged children to make decisions about what they wanted to do and this resulted in opportunities such as arts and crafts, music sessions, team games and outings in the local community.
The sports group seen us continue our partnership with active schools delivering a range of accessible sporting opportunities which provided the chance to try out new sports and take part in team sports with their peers. Organising regular activities meant that carers had regular time to themselves to do things that they enjoy and to recharge.
Feedback from carers has been extremely positive, many feel that the regular activities help them have something to look forward to and to cope better with their caring role. Carers chose how to spend this free time with some catching up with friends, visiting family or enjoying a meal with their partner. Others chose to catch up on household tasks or to simply relax and read a new book. The variety of ways people spent their time is reflective of the flexible approach carers tell us they value.
To encourage children and families to have a break together outside the home and to access mainstream resources we organised 10 accessible swimming sessions. These sessions allowed carers and their children to experience swimming and to try out different aids and methods that kept their child safe and able to participate in the pool.
We ran our parents forum at the same time we were supporting children which reduced the need for childcare costs. The forum gave parents the chance to spend time with peers in similar circumstances, talk about challenges and receive advice, and to share their thoughts and ideas about CLASP.
We also were organised individual respite breaks for 18 families who were experiencing crisis or who had children with profound challenges who required a longer break, at a time of their choice, to get on top of things, relax and build their ability to cope.
What Cornerstone has learned
Our biggest learning was that while regular activities work and help parents create order and routine, and have something to look forward too the parents we support need some flexibility for when problems arise or escalate and being able to offer the chance for one to one activities can make a crucial impact in a time of crisis.
Our partnership with active schools continues to flourish and we have cross shared training, our staff are now trained to deliver many disability sports and the active schools coordinators are more informed on disability issues.
We have found our partnership working with local authority and other stakeholders has meant we receive referrals from a wide range of sources, we will be looking to explore how we manage this as we now have a waiting list and increased demand for services.
We managed to raise funds to cover transport and one to one activities and will continue to do this as being in a rural area has an impact on the families we support.
How Cornerstone has benefitted from the funding
The funding from better breaks has helped us secure a £9,000 grant from Children in Need towards activity costs for one to one support. Being able to evidence our success at what we do and share feedback from families made our case for support stronger. We have strengthened our relationships in the community by increasing the activities we do that get families out and about and having the staffing costs to support this has been crucial. Having the grant has meant reaching more families than ever before through our service.
Children with multiple and complex support needs will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of social and recreational activities.
We met this outcome by: Our Zone Club providing weekly opportunities to participate in sport/team activities in partnership with active schools. We ran 50 sessions with an average of 25 young people attending each session. Our Youth Club provided opportunities to socialise, engage in arts and crafts, music therapy and dance on a fortnightly basis for two hours. We ran 25 sessions with an average of 20 young people attending each session. We organised 18 day or half day outings for young people who took part in other social activities such as visiting the cinema or a day trip to the beach. We have received positive feedback from carers and children which indicates that we have met this outcome successfully and that people feel engaged and consulted in project delivery. For example carers have told us that because their child enjoys the activities and had a choice in what they participated in they could relax better when they had their break.
We supported a carer whose child lived over 20 miles from their school and as such was isolated from their peers and also from other recreational activity. This means the carer had limited opportunities for a break as they were constantly looking to keep their child entertained and occupied. The result of this was that she felt exhausted and disorganised. They felt at times they were struggling to cope and could get more done if they could just have "time to breathe". We supported her by organising transport to and from the fortnightly social club for her child. During this time she would catch up on things around the house and caught up with friends She has told us that the time outside her caring role has made her feel more able to cope. Importantly being able to go to the youth club has meant her child has the opportunity for the first time to try new things, have fun and to socialise with peers outside school.
Carers of disabled children and young people (and those they care for) will have improved well-being.
By organising regular activities for children and young people we gave carers the chance to have some time to themselves on a regular basis. Carers told us that it helped them to feel more positive in general because they had something to look forward to, meaning the emotional strain of their caring role was lessened. We provided the clubs on a consistent basis which meant carers could connect with friends and improve their social life or could relax and unwind. Feedback one to one and through our parents forum has shown us that the chance to do this has helped carers feel like they have more energy and to feel happier about their own lives. These significant changes have shown that regular activities which give carers a break can transform their wellbeing and emotional health. Providing individual activities through challenging times also helped improve wellbeing with all carers of the 18 children who participated in activities saying that they felt better able to cope and happier.
We organised a day outing for a child and their sibling to offer their parents a break during a time of crisis. They had experienced a family bereavement and the parents were struggling to get time to organise the arrangements they needed to make and to take time to grieve and unwind. The day was organised very quickly in response to their needs. Without a break the parents feel as thought they would have stopped coping and that the time really helped them to stay emotionally well. It helped their relationship as the strain of the bereavement and caring for two children was taking it's toll, the time to reconnect and work together meant they felt less stress and the tension between them lessened.