DASH Club Holiday Programme
A story by The DASH Club
We delivered an Easter/Summer holiday programme in Glasgow for young people (age 11 to 18) with complex support needs. We provided a choice of activities and trips: enabling the young people to have fun and socialise, whilst their carers had a break.
What DASH Club Holiday Programme did
We delivered a three-day holiday programme during the Easter break and a nine-day programme at the start of the summer break. Both programmes were based at Broomlea Primary school in Glasgow.
Over the course of the Easter programme the young people enjoyed a day at Five Sister Zoo, a boat trip to the Falkirk Wheel with the Seagull Trust, a morning on the adapted bikes at Freewheel North, and visits to the People's Palace and Transport Museum. When at “base” they played games and had a choice of dance, aromatherapy and storytelling.
The Summer Programme alternated between “base” days and outings. Activities at base included dance, inclusive sports, storytelling, yoga, hydrotherapy & aromatherapy. The five days of outings took in a day trip to Ayr, canoeing/adapted bikes at Castle Semple, kayaking at Pinkston Watersports, swimming in Gourock Outdoor Pool, a visit to the newly re-opened Burrell Collection, Strathclyde Park, a Seagull Trust canal trip, and the cinema. We also had periods of down time when the young people socialised amongst themselves, used the soft-play & took advantage of Broomlea’s secure outside space and adventure play equipment.
We picked the young people up at around 9am, activities started at 10am, and we dropped the young people home after finishing up at 3pm. The project’s participants were all young people (age 11 to 18) with complex support needs from Ashton School. We offered places on the programme to members of the DASH After-School Club and were able to accommodate all requests. The carers and families of our young people used the time provided by the project spending time with other family members and friends, completing household tasks, visiting people, going shopping and out to places they can’t easily access when with their child, working extra hours, and “just having time to myself”. We used our core DASH staff to run the programme but also brought on some additional staff from a bank of temporary staff who we know and trust. This was the first time that we tried a yoga class with our young people & we very pleased at how well it went. As a result we hope to introduce yoga as an activity at our after-school club.
What The DASH Club has learned
We learnt that carers would like more advance notice on the holiday programme plans, in particular the dates so that they can plan their leave and care arrangements. This can be difficult to do as we usually don't have all our funding confirmed in time to plan as far in advance as we would like. A couple of our young people struggled with the external activities as they would become overwhelmed after a while. This was a challenge to manage and in a future programme we would look at the possibility of either having them stay at the base location where they feel more comfortable or arranging things so that they could return to the base from an activity early when they had had enough. Repeating activities with certain providers (eg. Seagull Trust, Castle Semple and Pinkston Watersports) has enabled us to build up a good relationship with them and the activities have as a consequence gone very smoothly as they have an understanding of the needs of our young people and our young people (and staff) know what to expect and how to best manage the day.
How The DASH Club has benefitted from the funding
We were able to try out yoga with our young people and as it was a success are hoping to introduce it to your afterschool club. As a result of running the programme we received a donation from Waitrose as it fitted with their theme for that quarter's funding round. Their fund manager visited us at the base during the summer programme to deliver the donation, and we featured in the next edition of company magazine.
Young people with complex support needs will have taken part in a variety of fun, stimulating activities over the Spring and Summer break. They will have developed friendships, and will be more confident/motivated to join in the activities that form our core term-time programme.
The outcome was fully achieved. The young people all took part in a wide range of activities and had a lot fun. Whilst we did different things each day, there was a familiar structure to each day (eg. starting from the base,"play-time" at the end of the day) which enabled the young people to relax. Familiarity with our staff, and the staff's already established relationships with the young people was another key factor in the young people being able to fully enjoy the activities. The activities were very sociable with plenty of opportunities for interacting with one another and developing new (and old) friendships, and we've seen those friendships continue at our afterschool club. Whilst we always try to introduce new activities to our holiday programmes, we know that our young people enjoy repeating favourite activities from past programmes. This was our third-year kayaking at Pinkston Water sports and this was apparent in the confidence & enthusiasm shown by the young people.
K. is 15 and joined the DASH After School Club in January 2022. He is non-verbal, has autism and scoliosis of the spine. At the club whilst seemingly happy to be at the sessions he was reluctant to join in the group activities, and wouldn't interact with the other young people. However, over the course of the holiday programmes K. noticeably grew in confidence and begun to join in the group activities. Whilst he still didn't directly interact with others, he was more relaxed at being in proximity to the other young people.
Carers will have been able to spend time over the Spring and Summer holidays with friends and families - engaging in activities that they aren’t usually able to access in their caring role.
The project outcome was fully achieved as the programme provided a total of 1,284 hours of respite to the carers of the young people enabling them to take part in activities both in and out of the home that they wouldn't otherwise be able to do. We picked up and dropped of the young people each day and this also helped to provide extra respite time for the carers. Parents and carers reported that they spent the time completing household chores, spending time with other family & friends, taking part in activities that they wouldn't otherwise be able to access, working extra hours and enjoying "down-time. A couple of parents mentioned that as they didn't have to take leave from work to look after their child during the holiday programmes they were able to "save" their leave to take a longer family holiday.
T. is 14, has ASD and learning difficulties. He is verbal and likes to be sociable and active. However, he struggles to occupy himself and this can be very demanding on his family as he wants to have their full attention at all times which is exhausting and prevents his carers from completing household tasks or relaxing properly. This can make the summer holidays difficult and feel very long. With T.happily engaged on the DASH holiday programme, his family were able to relax and to do some activities that they enjoy but can't usually take part in as T. isn't interested. They were able to have proper down-time spending time reading, watching films etc. Both the Easter and summer breaks were more manageable with T. spending part of them at DASH. The summer break in particular felt less like a marathon to be endured and more of a proper break for all.
The young people will have improved well-being from having a structured, fun programme of activities during the holiday period. Carers will have had a chance to relax and spend time focusing on themselves and their other family members.
This outcome was fully achieved. The young people were very relaxed at the holiday club, they knew the staff and each other well, they were familiar with the routines, and felt safe and supported, they were able to "be themselves" and fully participate in the activities. Our staff were very good at creating a positive energy and ensuring that all the activities were fun for everyone. Wellbeing benefits reported by parents in relation to their child included being happier, sleeping better, feeling less isolated, and being less frustrated. For the carers, the respite provided by the project enabled them to fully relax, recharge batteries, and spend time with family and friends. The "top" wellbeing benefit reported by carers was that they were less tired, followed by being more relaxed, and having time to themselves and to fulfil their own needs.
P. is 16, has a number of developmental conditions and learning difficulties. She is happiest in a routine and struggles with boredom and isolation during the summer holidays. However, she is often reluctant to take part in activities suggested by her parents, in particular anything new. The DASH holiday programmes provided P. with structure at the start of the holidays and she very much enjoyed being with friends and being active. This was reflected in her being happy and relaxed at home. Her parents were pleased at how P. tried activities that she would refuse to do with them, and that she was more confident as a result.
Additional project outcome
Carers to access new/different activities with the young people.
We know that for the carers and families of our young people that it can be hard to access activities that the whole family can enjoy. As part of the project we included a daily diary for each young person that detailed the activities they took part in. We also put up photos and videos of each day's activities on Facebook giving information on the various venues we visited. This year parents reported that they would be trying kayaking at Pinkston Water-sports and swimming at Gourock open air pool