Creative Breaks for Young Adults 19+
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Ltd
We provided breaks at various locations throughout the United Kingdom for young adults affected by disabilities so that they could pursue their interests and have fun together with a group of their friends and peers supported by our staff giving their carers respite.
What Creative Breaks for Young Adults 19+ did
We arranged a variety of breaks at various times of the year between November 2022 and September 2023 to accommodate our young people affected by disabilities. The breaks went to many different destinations including taking part in the sights and attractions at Blackpool, experience Scottish culture and the vibrancy of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, enjoying the environment views and activities at Whinfell Forest Centre Parcs resort and Lochgoilhead.
We also for the first time went to Manchester to the Old Coach House in Blairgowrie. The Creative Breaks funded element of this project was able to provide 5 days, 4 night breaks to young adults with disabilities. We are very flexible when arranging the breaks and look at what the parents and young people needs.
The manager holds a meeting with our Senior Support Worker to see which other young people could also go on this break looking at personalities and their interests etc, this resulted in 35 parents/carers/young carers the opportunity to take part in these breaks. We have a very high number of elderly carers whose health is deteriorating and having these breaks gives then time to rest, attend hospital appointments and re charge.
We have found that many of our adults who have no funding have nowhere else to go. We have an ongoing staff-training programme, which is key to us being able to offer such an in-demand service. Having the input from young, people parents/carers is a very important part of the planning process. The Manager & senior then have a meeting to discuss the activities, individual needs, accommodation, and dietary/medication requirements of each individual.
Medication and protocol are completed and when administering must have two staff checking and signing. This is important because the needs of our young people can change suddenly and dramatically. Remaining vigilant and observant and being adaptable is crucial to the planning from one break to the next.
What Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Ltd has learned
Pre-planning is the key to success not just with this project but all the different services we run. It is especially vital to this project. As we take away young people with complex needs for 3 days-5 days we need a much more in-depth understanding of their needs as they will need different levels of care than if they were only with us for our usual sessions. Without the extra time planning and getting to know the young people who participate in each break is a recipe for disaster.
Each trip has staff who already either know the young people or take the extra time to get to know new participants and their families. It is important that all places we visit can provide a good range of activities to keep everyone involved and busy. The young people find that they enjoy just spending time with their friends and their staff just as much as everything else on the breaks. They want and need to feel included and respected.
However, we find that having a broad range of activities often-unknown skills that the young people may have and new ideas. Many young people enjoy activities that they would not do so normally. As it is with most of our young people, parents tell us that they do not feel that they can allow their young people to take part in certain activities because community facilities cannot safely accommodate their needs without the correct level of support.
We can overcome this barrier through our knowledge and expertise. This of course means everyone gains confidence and become more willing to try other new things. Parents/carers are very apprehensive about how their young people will cope away from home. However, we have found that because parents/carers have gotten to know the staff involved with each break they are happy for the young people to have the opportunity of being away from home. The success of the breaks means parents are very keen to have more breaks and become very willing to let their young people become very adventurous.
We have also learned, through Creative Breaks, and through all of our other services that no matter how many people we help and how much we can offer it is never enough. Families are now approaching us for support with issues that had previously been resolved. Families affected by disabilities in Glasgow are facing nightmarish times trying to find any kind of support. It is vital that we continue to fundraise to support the most vulnerable families who need support and we are very motivated to achieve this goal.
How Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Ltd has benefitted from the funding
Having been fortunate enough to receive funding in the past from the Creative Breaks funding programme for several years, we have been able to develop an excellent short respite service, which is suitable for all families affected by disability no matter what level of support they require. We cannot stress enough how important this funding has been and the positive impact it has had for young adults and their carers in Glasgow. The Creative Breaks programme is significant support for families in Glasgow for this kind of service. Without the Creative Breaks funding for this aspect of our service young adults and parents/carers lose a real lifeline. It is a service, which families are now requesting on the occasion where they have SDS/Personalisation budgets produced for their young people. We also receive many enquiries for these breaks from people word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Parents tell their friends about us and those families call looking for places because their friends recommend us. The fact that we have been able to keep bringing new people to the breaks will hopefully mean further expansion for these families. Some families are not aware of this service and therefore not able to understand just how beneficial these breaks are for the whole family. Our experience and knowledge grows every year we are able to run this project. It really has given us a much better grasp of what support carers and cared for people need in our city. We have been able to develop links with activity providers who we use for the breaks and this enhances the whole experience because they are more familiar with the kinds of complex needs our young people have. We are now at a point that it is more important than ever to help families realise that their lives need not be so limited and that opportunities are not only possible but also now expected.
Our project helps our families to be able to have some well-deserved respite so they can do their daily tasks and chores that can be normally be very challenging when you have a young person affected by disabilities. It gives families opportunities to spend time with their other children.
We have always asked parents/carers to give us their stories of how they managed to spend their time while they were away from their young people. This is a valuable form of evaluation. Real-life stories and experiences are crucial to the development of the project. For carers spending time at home without their young people is the most common and evidently beneficial result. Parents/Carers who lives have benefitted from Creative Breaks funding have nowhere else they can send their young people because the local authority have decided that they do not need support. They do. Furthermore, they heavily rely upon us to find the small pots of funding wherever we can year in and year out because nobody else will help them. We have close bonds and good relationships with the parents/carers. We were able to ease their worries and give them this opportunity for real respite. Everyone who participates is always very keen to go on another break and always ask when they can go on another one.
GT is a young woman who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, anxiety, panic attacks hypothyroidism and heart defect. She also has autism and has an emergency protocol in place for her heart defect/breathlessness. G has been attending Buddies since she was a very young girl coming up through our after school service. G is a generally happy young woman and has a cheeky and mischievous side. She has been known to run away from the staff members supporting her. G’s family has also suffered from recent bereavements and the family unit is struggling. Mum is on her own as a single parent/carer and has suffered from depression due to all of burdens she carries. Mum has really struggled over the past 12 months this has been compounded by G having transitioned out of school and fighting to find somewhere for her daughter to go as she has nothing at present with the exception of Buddies. Through the Creative Breaks fund, we were able to offer G a trip to Whinfell Forest for a spa weekend. G particularly enjoyed spa and being pampered. G’s mum provided us with some feedback to say that all she did over the weekend were simple things that we all take for granted – going for a walk, going for shopping and a facial. These are all impossible for G’s mum due to the responsibilities involved with being a full time carer to G. We hope to be able to build more breaks into G’s provision in the future to help the family.
Having the support from the breaks on a consistent basis will allow the carers to continue caring allowing them a life of their own for that short period. Enabling personalisation and choice of support leads to much better outcomes for both the young person and carer.
Our parents/carers are completely physically and emotionally exhausted. They would be unable to continue to sustain the level of care needed if their young people have no outlets or time away from them. Vey many families have very distressing stories, over the past two years in particular, and we find that they have become very socially isolated. They are stuck at home and parents/carers are burnt out and have nowhere else to turn. This has a very negative influence on the home life because behaviours become more challenging and carers receive the brunt of this. We have run this project since 2011, it has grown so very popular and families are always asking when the next one will be. Through the Creative Breaks fund, we have continually been able to support those who have no funding. This kind of project was not something ever thought possible but as each year passes more and more parents know that this is something they need on a more consistent basis.
WL is a woman who has Downs Syndrome mobility and hearing issues. W particularly enjoys swimming, the beach, parks, music and dancing. W regularly attends our holiday club provision and has been doing so for a number of years. She also attends our Christmas and Halloween Parties and has a great time dancing the night away. W’s mum told one of the staff that, during the Summer, W’s dad had had to go through some major surgery and emotionally the family was struggling. W was able to attend our Manchester break with a group of her friends at Buddies and the staff. They had a great time going out for dinner, bowling, trampolining and a tour of the Coronation Street set. They had a great time and we will definitely be going back to Manchester in the future. Our Senior Support Worker received a call from W’s mum a few days after the break to tell us that she was so grateful for the opportunity for W to go away with us. Mum also said it was fantastic to be able to relax and spend time with her W’s dad together without having to worry about caring for W, as they were confident in our staff’s ability to support W. It was a very bittersweet phone call. As much as we were so happy to receive such positive feedback, this also revealed how desperate parents/carers for support. We will continue to be one of the organisations meeting this demand and helping parents/carers with their day-to-day lives.
By having access to play and leisure, our young people will not only increase their self-esteem but also have fun and make friends. Most cannot access other services and do not have any friends or social outlets. Buddies is a vital lifeline for our families.
All breaks are planned with all family members fully involved to give plenty time for everyone to decide what they will do during the breaks. This is important because it makes everyone feel that their opinions are valued and that respected. The young people who are participating can decide activities that they want to do and parents/carers have a brief freedom they desperately need. It is eye opening how thrilled all involved are just simply spend the weekend doing “nothing” or with friends or their other children. These are things many take for granted. All feedback reports highlight how much they young people enjoyed themselves and talk about what they enjoyed best and that they want to go away again. The same goes for the parents/carers. The young people rejoice in doing things independently away from their parents and similarly the parents/carers rejoice in being able to do things without the pressure of caring duties.
LS is a man whose life is affected by slow processing Learning disabilities and myoclonic astatic epilepsy. L is new to our service having only been here for about 12 months now. He attends our Outreach service on Thursdays taking part in our art classes and only last month started outreach on Wednesdays and goes to Indepen-Dance. We were able to send L away on a break to Blairgowrie. A full timetable of outdoor activities were planned and L loves the outdoors. However, sadly, the weekend was marred by severe rainfall throughout the country. This resulted in a major flood just outside the accommodation. The group made the best of a bad situation, banded together, and still had a great time. On the last day, they were able to go out paddle boarding which everyone loved. L had a great time taking part in the activities they were able to do and was so happy throughout the trip. His mum and dad also provided us with some feedback to say they were so happy to see how much L’s horizons had expanded since he had been attending Buddies. Hopefully, next time the weather will be better.