ConneXions Holiday Club
A story by Cosgrove Care
Cosgrove offered an ambitious personalised holiday activity programme that was co-produced with families to provide essential respite during the school holiday.
The programme offered opportunities for free play, music, dancing and trip days the children had chosen themselves, thus increasing opportunities of gaining independence, choice and personal development.
What ConneXions Holiday Club did
Cosgrove’s Connexions Holiday Club consisted of 35 sessions which took place over the 2014 spring, summer and autumn school holidays. The sessions ranged from 4 - 8 hours of support to 30 families, where a child or young person in the family has complex/ multiple support needs. Through recruitment days and online we were able to recruit a large number of high calibre volunteers; this greatly increased our capacity in terms of the support and range of activities we were able to offer the children.
We had lots of “trip days” including outings to our Equine Facilitated Learning Project, Heads of Ayr, The Yard, Edinburgh Zoo, Loch Lomond Sea Life Centre and many other destinations. Our resource based days took place at a local church and as we had good weather we were able to go outside even on days that weren’t specifically for “trip days”. On these days children were given a choice of going to the park, going on a walk, taking public transport or going to the shops.
We also ran sibling open days and it was evident that the siblings enjoyed playing and played extremely well with children other than their own sibling and regardless of any existing disabilities. Parents communicated that the Holiday Club was a life-line for them over the holidays. Many said that it helped them do “normal” things like chat with their partner, meet friends, spend time with their other children, catch up with housework and so on.
One mother commented the break had allowed her to work at home without the stress of worrying about her son. Another mother commented that having the break made it easier for her to meet professionals such as educational psychologists and dieticians for her son, which would have been very difficult had he been there.
What Cosgrove Care has learned
This year we had many children who exhibited challenging behaviour, this was difficult to fully prepare for as some of the children were going through transitions and the behaviour they were exhibiting was volatile and unpredictable. This emphasised the need for us to have appropriate training for all the staff, such as CAMHS.
Parents stopping to chat about their child’s development when dropping off and picking up their child - this didn't allow adequate time and attention. In future there will be time allocated for this and more staff on hand to give families their full attention.
Due to the nature of the Holiday Club being less structured and more personalised, this led to more spontaneous activities I.e. we had great weather and we would often change indoor plans to outdoor plans.
We had a large volume of high calibre volunteers this year and they created a positive environment through the enthusiasm and energy they brought to their role.