Corseford Summer Club 2019
A story by Corseford School Parent Council
We provided an 8 day Summer Club, including transport and intensive staffing, for children with complex support needs.
There was one tailored week for older and one for younger pupils. An activity and play based club for children unable to access community run schemes due to their support needs.
What Corseford Summer Club 2019 did
The school summer holiday is a particularly long holiday and has always been a stressful time for parents and carers of children with disabilities. The pupils of Corseford School have long term multiple support needs requiring intervention and support in all or most of the following personal care, medical/nutritional care, emotional support, access to their environment and social activities and intensive help with communication. All require 24 hour care.
This puts an enormous strain on carers. Approximately 1/3 of the pupils are in single parent homes and in addition there are a large number of siblings. The majority of Children who attend Corseford are unable to access local authority provision in the holidays due to their multiple support needs. This in addition to the wide geographical spread of the young people attending Corseford means that the pupils have very little or no opportunity to socialise with their school friends and peers.
We delivered a holiday club run over 2 weeks where each young person had access to 4 days each week 10am-4pm. Transport was provide to and from the club. The club was based in the short breaks area of Corseford School. All the pupils of Corseford were invited to attend; 11 took up a place. Over the 4 days the pupils did a variety of activities including speed boating, Olympic competition and this year's highlight the Pony Axes trip to Ayr beach.
During the week, carers were able to maximise their time due to the provision of transport. This year the club was run in the short breaks area and staffed by their staff, some of who also work in the school. As a parent council we worked with the short breaks staff to ensure they developed a thorough knowledge of each young person coming. This was particularly important as this was a group of young people with very complex health needs.
Ruth Macleod, the manager, ensured this was done as well as building up an itinerary for the week.
What Corseford School Parent Council has learned
We have run a summer club on these lines for a number of years now, and so most hiccups have been smoothed out. However, this year it became apparent that despite our best efforts, some children's families were not fully aware of the opportunities the club affords for their children, so this year, we have made doubly sure we have reached out specifically to parents and carers.
In our previous year we had staffing issues, and so have moved the club in to the Short Breaks Unit "next door" to the school. This initially had challenges in ensuring the club is a very separate entity from their usual offering, and ensuring a good handover of support. However, we think that this will now ensure a good continuity of provision into the future.
Finding new activities is always a challenge, but the Pony Axes trip was fabulous, and we'll hope to repeat in the future.
How Corseford School Parent Council has benefitted from the funding
Our project would not be feasible without the support of the Short Breaks Fund. These young people are some of the most vulnerable and isolated in our society and also the most demanding to care for. They are also the least likely group to be able to access other provision. With that in mind we hope that we can continue to run the Summer Club to provide some much needed respite for carers as well as sheer joy for the young people who attend. We could not have done this without the Short Breaks Fund and for that we are deeply grateful.
We will have delivered a 4 day summer club to 11 young people and their families.
11 young people accessed the club and via a survey beforehand, they were able to say how they would like to use their precious time. The young people who access the club have extremely high physical support needs. Typically they can't weight bear and require specialist supportive seating. Some have sensory impairments and other issues which mean that exciting and stimulating activities are difficult to access. Everything has to be risk assessed and group activities like this are difficult to source and organise. They were able to indicate choices including speed boats, a party, and sports. The highlight was the trip in the Pony Axes to Ayr beach! All done in the presence of friends who they don't see much out of school.
From a parent: "My son had an absolute ball at the Club, especially enjoying the pony ride, which was a completely new experience for him. Not only did he enjoy the ride, but he never gets onto the beach nowadays, so what a joy to get sand in his chair! His whole demeanour changes when it's club week, from being quite a bored, isolated boy through the holiday, getting back together with his friends makes him so much happier".
Carers will feel better rested after the 4 days'
We've already had a resounding call for a repeat in 2020 - Grant Application submitted!
From a parent: "It was very beneficial for me and my son because it gave me a break when I was really struggling in my caring role, so after getting a break and starting to feel refreshed again I was able to get back into my caring role more positively. Also my son enjoyed his time at the club immensely and I saw a change in his mood after, being a lot more cheery. So that in itself makes the club worthwhile."
Carers to report they have managed to do things which otherwise would be difficult or impossible.
By providing transport to and from the club the time carers had was maximised. Not only did a taxi extend the amount of respite, it also meant that other family members could relax instead of having to take a child/sibling to club and back again. In some cases this is could be up to a 2 hour round trip at start and end of day. In addition, carers reported that they were able to do things with other children, relax, or indeed work!
From a parent; "As a single parent , the summer club has been a complete lifeline. With all the provision in my local authority diminishing and my son`s support needs drastically increasing with age the alternative was bleak. My son has severe uncontrolled epilepsy and on paper is a liability nightmare for any organisation as well as a constant source of emotional stress and worry for me as his mum. He can attend camp using the care plan already in school and short breaks with staff who know him well and recognise his triggers. Everyone is trained in hoisting and emergency medication for seizures and all the risk assessments have already been done, for us as a family it has meant a chance to plan, to treat, to think out the box without boundaries. No timing, no hunting for changing places or having PAs with us. We live 45 mins each way from school so the day would be wasted on travelling if transport was not provided. My son has a twin and this year we had a ball visiting Summerlee mining museum, watching a movie of his choice and made it to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time. I also managed to use a spa day voucher I received for Christmas last year! We have so many carers always in the house it was great to be at home alone with time and privacy. We could enjoy our days out all the more knowing his brother was being well looked after and having the best time with his friends. The photos and club diary that come home at the end of the week are amongst my most treasured possessions and a lovely talking point to share with my son. It is upsetting to see so much funding wasted in the wider community but a guilt free week knowing that all the family, including me , are doing something they enjoy is totally priceless. I am so grateful to the Parent Council for organising it and Better breaks for believing in it."