A story by Cosgrove Care
CHAMPS brings children and young people with additional needs together to take part in a regular weekend club which will build skills, confidence and friendships and provide a break for parents and carers. The focus will be on themed activities, safe fun, friendship and new experineces.
What Cosgrove CHAMPS did
We delivered 30 weeks of sessions- two per week. We delivered 10 sleepovers sessions and we delivered one family day. We held 4 family forums with carers. The sessions ran for 30 weeks from April 2022- March 2023. The activities took place at Rouken Glen Park, at our delivery hub at May Terrace and various locations including the Yard, Maritime Museum, Prestwick Beach and other locations. 96 children and young people with disabilities aged 5-21 were supported. Referrals came from social work, education, through promotion of our activities which led to self referrals and word of mouth. We learned that carers used their time to spend with other children, to relax, shop and re-charge their batteries. We recruited a number of volunteer helpers for CHAMPS and also engaged specialist facilitators, this allowed us to build the skills of staff, build confidence in disabled young people and create connections to sustain young people out with and within the home environment. We trained staff in effective use of sensory activities, reflective diaries to chart progress and impact for young people and their families and regular contact with families to ensure we continued to meet their short break needs and made any adjustments to short break times.
Regular contact with families resulted in us building a strong sense of the impact of short breaks on families, remove barriers- transport was one of these- and understand the changes on children and young people which ultimately has assisted families and carers in continuing their caring responsibilities, The impact of creating friendships, safe environments and fun activities has been a real success of CHAMPS, allowing us to understand what works and what needs to be in place for families in the greatest need of a short break. Sleepovers have proved very successful- they are local, cost effective and have high impact for carers who have time out to relax. CHAMPS has proved to be very successful, providing regular short breaks for carers and opportunities for young people to build skills and confidence. Local sleepovers have proved successful in providing low cost, high impact opportunities and broadening choice.
What Cosgrove Care has learned
Project Planning and Budgeting- we have learned the importance of effective Project Planning and review to ensure that we can respond at an early point to challenges, For example recruitment is becoming a challenge and therefore a greater emphasis on facilitators, volunteers and sessional staff was required than anticipated, requiring adjustments and flexibility in approach to meet targets. This learning has assisted us with future planning and review processes and strengthened our organisation. Partnership working allowed us to access a wide variety of spaces to deliver CHAMPS and find creative alternative approaches to sleepovers which has been really positive in meeting outcomes and creating variety and impact for young people and their families.
Demand is high, we have learned to create a programme which allows us to deliver support and services to as many families as possible through 10 week blocks. The family day and referral process has helped us divert families to other services provided by Cosgrove and other providers to ensure needs are met. We have expanded weekend activities and specifically fundraised to help us sustain support to some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities.
How Cosgrove Care has benefitted from the funding
The Short Breaks funding has helped us expand our service offer and understand the impact of short, activity focused sessions which are regular and focused on building skills and connections. We have expanded our reputation as a provider with the skills and expertise to provide overnight support and short breaks and have been able to shift and adjust to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. The connections established with families, the creation of the Family Forum and the importance of putting in place mechanisms to remove barriers to participation through strong referral communication and planning has helped our organisation improve in responsiveness and understanding. The evidence of impact has helped us secure other funding to support ongoing work with local families and given us confidence as a local provider. Across Cosgrove, the Better Breaks tools have helped us improve M and E and case study gathering as a means of evidence.
90 children and young people will have had the opportunity to engage in activities which will have created connections, built skills and engage in new activities. We conducted consultation with families to determine impact on young people, linked to outcomes based support plans to measure this.
CHAMPS supported 96 children and young people who took part in a varied programme of activities, across a range of community resources which proved to be successful and fun. Bringing in facilitators to lead on dance, art, drama and per therapy increased the fun factor. Pow wows, tops and pants evaluation and observational and reflective diaries helped us measure the impact- around fun, friendships and choosing activities. This level of engagement demonstrated that we had been able to achieve this by positive responses to activities- lots of tops, few pants! Friendships and connections were created by taking time to consider compatibility, encouraging connections and friendships which could be sustained out with CHAMPS. Families and carers saw this as a particular success of CHAMPS, they could see improvements in wellbeing and mood and this in turn had a positive impact on family and home dynamics.
CH is supported twice weekly - once a week at home and one support on a Saturday afternoon at CHAMPS. We have supported CH since he was young and they just moved to the East Renfrewshire area. Mum referred to Cosgrove in 2020, as a single parent and trying to get back to work, she wanted a service that was equipped with the right experience to support her son. By this introduction into Cosgrove, it allowed Mum to go back to work and at the same time allow CH to build relationships and friendships within a service that understood how to support his abilities. Cosgrove were able to signpost Mum to link with the local additional support needs school which he has attended through the Family Day. CH is now 17 years old and we are supporting his transition into Adult Services in Summer 2023. Mum felt CH was isolated, not having many people he could connect with outside of school. This worry grew for her and particularly now as he is about to transition out of school. We were mindful of the amount of change happening in his world around him. It is important for us for CH to meet other young people of similar ages to build natural friendships, build on independence skills in a supportive environment and participate in activities that bring him joy. We were able to do this through CHAMPS. We did this by ensuring the champs met CH's needs, receiving his families input and ensuring his voice was heard so, CH is at the heart at his planning for his Shared Care funded activities. CHAMPS has supported CH to build his confidence and build on his life skills which he will support him with his transition. He has been able to make friends and his mum has had consistent support to help her in her caring role. Family Quote “CHAMPS is a fantastic service. It offers the children outdoor access whether that’s walking round the park , exploring the forest, playing in the swing park or visiting the garden centre. The group also like to visit the café which gives the children the experience of ordering and paying for a drink and snack. It also has indoor activities where the children can enjoy baking or making pizza or have visiting facilitators such as a drama teacher or have a sensory experience. This group has so much varied activities to offer all ages and in all weather conditions which is amazing. CH absolutely loves it. It has improved life for me as a single mum and helped CH secure lasting friendships and new experiences” Mum
100 carers will be reporting examples of positive change in their lives from the short breaks. 80 carers will have access to a greater range of choice and opportunity of short break to sustain them. Families will have had the opportunity to engage in sessions to influence choice and range.
Our ongoing engagement with families and our process of objective setting has given us clear evidence of how carers and family members have used the time created by the provision of CHAMPS to enjoy life and relax. Families have told us they get to spend time with other children, that the regular and consistent nature of the break gives them time to relax, re-charge batteries, safe in the knowledge that their disabled family member is with a trusted provider, We have clear evidence of how families use their time and this information has demonstrated that we have achieved this outcome. Consistent, short breaks with the option of sleepovers has increased the choice and variety of short breaks available to carers and families, providing evidence that CHAMPS has achieved this outcome.
M is a young person who has complex needs, autism and is non verbal. He lives with his mum, dad and two sisters. M attends CHAMPS on a Saturday morning. The family had built up a trusting relationship with Cosgrove and the consistent short break has allowed the family to arrange regular time with other children as well as an overnight stay away. Attending the CHAMPS has opened up opportunities for M as this has allowed him to develop a real sense of self, building confidence within himself and build meaningful relationships with his peers. This impacts positively at home as he is happier he is accessing the group which as a result, there is a reduction of distress at home. This in addition has opened up opportunities for M family to network with other families who’s young people also attend the group. “Our son, M has been receiving support from Cosgrove for several years now. He has attended a few different support activities over the years and Cosgrove has by far been the best with Better Breaks Funded CHAMPS offering support which has transformed our lives and that of our other children. The staff are phenomenal. The management answer any query or concern I have right away and if one member of the management team is unavailable, there is always another I can contact. They always manage to pair my son up with a member of staff that seems to really understand my boy (which isn't easy as he is non verbal and has extremely challenging behaviour at times). The support staff have always been great. There is a few members of staff in particular that we, as a family will never forget and will always be grateful for their patience and kindness with our son. CHAMPS has allowed us to relax and spend time with our other children. M really enjoys going to CHAMPS at the weekend and during the holidays and it also gives us a much needed break to get every day things done such as housework or shopping (which simply cannot be done when he is on the scene!) I have focussed primarily on the staff for one simple reason, good care staff are hard to come by! We have seen so many over the years from other organisations which simply shouldn't be in the job, it's just too much for them. While it is understandable that it is a difficult job working with these children and young adults, it's even more difficult putting your trust in strangers with your disabled child and so it breaks your heart to think they may not be get the right support or in the way you want them to be treated. We have never had this concern with Cosgrove and I thank God for the wonderful people we have got to know there over the years.” R (Mum)
Additional project outcome
For the older young people, CHAMPS as described in the case study has had a positive impact on the preparation for transition into adult services, helping connect young people, build skills, confidence and resilience and sign post through family days to other local services.
The case study provided above covers this additional outcome.