A story by Cornerstone
CLASP provided a range of social, sport and leisure activities for children and young people with disabilities in Argyll & Bute. The project was developed based on the needs and interests of the children, young people and their carers.
What CLASP Project did
Throughout 2020/21, Clasp offered respite days, regular youth clubs, and a regular sports club for children with disabilities in and around Dunoon within Argyll & Bute. Clasp supports children with complex needs to become more independent by taking part in sports and leisure activities in a safe and encouraging environment – all priorities of Better Breaks.
Covid-19 meant that many activity providers and venues were no longer suitable so, with careful planning from the team, we offered 'Clasp Goes Outdoors!' throughout the year to comply with social distancing measures. With the doors of many activity providers still closed to the public, we had to be creative when devising engaging sessions for the youngsters.
The activities offered by Clasp Goes Outdoors included: nature walks, beach art, play therapy workshops, archery, Go Climb, cycling, outdoor fitness and dance, orienteering, scavenger hunts, forest building and arts and crafts. Every child was given the choice of activity. Every child was also assigned their own support staff which allowed us to be flexible around each child’s individual needs. The parents were very supportive with the move to outdoors and worked with us to make these activities a success. The activities of Clasp gave the parents/carers precious hours of respite to focus on self-care, other family commitments or catch up with their friends. These short breaks help carers to maintain a healthy balance between caring for a child with a disability and looking after their own health and wellbeing.
Lockdown meant that many of our activities could not go ahead during the start of the pandemic. To keep families busy during lockdown, staff created monthly activity packs for the children which were packed with materials for activities like sand art, model making, baking, jewelry making, Lego, and other activities. These packs were very well received by families and came at a time when schools were closed. We also offered fitness challenges, loaned sensory equipment, and offered a shopping delivery service for families who struggled during lockdown.
What Cornerstone has learned
When we were looking at providing virtual activities during lockdown, we discovered that some of the families lacked the equipment to take part. We overcame this by making funding applications to provide families with the hardware needed. Cornerstone learned of other funding opportunities which allowed us to purchase the necessary equipment to provide outdoor activities when restrictions allowed.
The Clasp team also learned about the pressures families faced during lockdown. Finding things for children with support needs is challenging when you’re restricted to what you have in your home. The Clasp Team was able to make some of their sensory and sporting equipment available to families during lockdown, as well as a ‘check in’ service and help with shopping.
How Cornerstone has benefitted from the funding
Funders like The Short Breaks Fund Better Breaks programme is what makes projects like Clasp possible. Clasp could not provide children with the same level of support without this funding nor could we provide the adventurous activities Clasp is known for. Funders like these enable Cornerstone to work with, and support, more families than our current funding allows. Funding like this expands the reach of our charity and helps us to enhance our projects to improve the lives of the people we support.
Children and young people with disabilities within the area will have the opportunity to participate in sport, social and leisure activities.
Despite Covid-19, Clasp has continued to provide activities for children throughout the year by delivering 26 respite days and 21 Youth Club sessions throughout the year which benefitted 35 children with disabilities across Argyll & Bute. By moving the clubs outdoors, we were able to safely deliver activities like, Archery Lessons, Climbing Wall Activities, Airboarding and more, whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. Clasp's Zone Club which would typically offer regular sporting activities to children was disrupted by the pandemic. As Zone Club is operated in partnership with Active Schools, these activities could not go ahead while restrictions were in place. During this time, Clasp offered support to families by providing virtual fitness sessions, loaning of equipment and more. Zone Club has since restarted offering football, basketball, hockey, fitness, dance, and tennis. 100% of parents/carers strongly or somewhat agreed that Clasp helps their child to stay active.
One of the children we support has always attended Respite Activity Days and Zone Club but has never been able to attend Youth Club due their parent's work/studying commitments. By making these sessions virtual, the child has been able to attend. This has helped the child become more confident and has even started to share with the club and meet new people. This has also given the parent more time to study. We are now looking at ways to enable the child to attend the face to face sessions.
60 carers will have regular, reliable opportunities to have a break from their caring role to spend however they choose - shopping, reading, visiting friends or family, taking a walk, seeing a film – ensuring they are refreshed and better able to manage their caring responsibilities.
Since the start of lockdown Clasp has made massive changes to the way we support all our Children, parents and staff throughout the pandemic. We have had to evaluate our service and adapt to the restrictions and guidelines in order provide as much support as possible for all families. Despite Covid-19, Clasp has been able to provide respite for carers by maximising face to face support when possible, providing virtual sessions when necessary, and offering other types of support during lockdowns. During lockdown, Clasp offered, Video Calls to shielding families, video calls to all children unable to attend, activity bags delivered every month to all families, Time Capsule – all service involved, sharing achievements, celebration of birthdays, online support sessions, online Youth Club and sharing our resources. Clasp supported 50 carers as opposed to 60. This number is lower than we expected due to delays with the referral process brought on by Covid-19.
The return of our weekly Zone Club has allowed carers to have more time for themselves. One parent has really benefited from this support by giving them the time to attend a weekly fitness class of her own. This class has improved their own mental and physical health describing Clasp as their "weekly lifeline". The peace of mind provided to carers when their child is being supported at Clasp is hugely beneficial.
60 carers will have improved mental and/or physical health as a direct result of the respite from their caring responsibilities and the regular Parent Forum meetings.
With 26 days of respite, Youth Club, and Zone Club, Clasp has provided regular respite for all families involved with Clasp. Clasp sessions provide each child with the support they need giving carers a much-deserved break giving them the time to pursue a hobby, relax, or spend time with their other children. We believe we have met this outcome during an unprecedented time. Due to social distancing, our Parent/Carer Forum had to change. After consulting parents, we opted to offer regular support sessions individually to carers to gather their views and offer advice. This has enabled us to provide more personalised support to carers during such a challenging time for families. Clasp supported 50 carers as opposed to 60. This number is lower than we expected due to delays with the referral process brought on by Covid-19.
Below are some quotes from carers who benefitted from the respite provided by Clasp. “My first trip over the other side in 15 months – Freedom!” “Time to meet a friend for a walk and a coffee” “I have managed to reach my 10000 step goal for the day!”
Children/young people with disabilities and their carers will benefit from stronger physical and mental health as a direct result of the sport, leisure, socialisation, and respite made possible through CLASP.
Improving physical and mental wellbeing is at the heart of what Clasp offers to families. During such a challenging year, we believe Clasp has went above and beyond to support families during this time by constantly adapting to Covid-19 and to the needs of families. Activities provided by Clasp aim to improve both the physical and mental health of its participants. Sports and adventure days give the children the opportunity to try out new activities that are not typically available to them via mainstream activity providers. The Clasp team also promote a healthy diet and good hygiene when out at cafes or providing snacks. 100% of parents/carers strongly or somewhat agreed that Clasp helps their child to be healthy. 100% of parents/carers strongly or somewhat agreed that Clasp activities helped improve their child's confidence. 100% of parents/carers strongly or somewhat agreed that Clasp helps their child to stay active.
One parent was very shy at the start of the year. They would always attend parent forums but lacked the confidence to voice their opinions within a group environment. Speaking to the parent on a one-to-one basis meant she could open up more. We slowly introduced another parent to our catch ups. Both parents are now friends which has proved to be invaluable during the pandemic. This type of natural support is common for the carers involved with Clasp.