Disability Respite Holiday Programme
A story by The Caravan Project
We provided disabled young people from Glasgow and their carers with a week long respite holiday at Craig Tara in Ayr.
The families were also provided with transport, entertainment passes, discount cards and a free food hamper. To Improve accessibility we also installed a disabled access ramp.
What Disability Respite Holiday Programme did
Fitting with the Better Breaks priority of diversity, we specifically targeting young people with disabilities and their carers from the most deprived communities in Glasgow, helping them to overcome barriers that prevent them from accessing short breaks.
In total we provided 256 people included 121 Carers and 63 young people with disabilities a week-long respite break at our caravans in Craig Tara. In addition we also provided:
Free door-to-door transport, a free food hamper, free entertainment complex passes, providing access to the pool, children’s play area etc and a discount card (providing up to 50% off selected purchases on site)
We also installed a disabled access ramp at one of our Caravans which helped remove a barrier to accessing a holiday for people with mobility issues.
We were able to engage our target groups via our network of volunteer REPS working within local organisations across the city. Our reps played a key role in identifying deserving individuals and families and providing them support through each step of the application process.
As this was our first ever targeted programme for young people with disabilities and their carers we decided to implement the following initiatives to help us overcome challenges and achieve our targets: 50% of all Easter, summer and October school holidays were allocated specifically to young people with disabilities and their carers, 2 weeks each year were dedicated solely for young people with a disability and their carers. This allowed carers to provide peer support to each other and reducing the anxiety levels allowing them to get more from the break.
Our application forms now have a dedicated section regarding disability which we hope will result in a higher number of applicants reporting if they have a disability. This helped to overcome issues with under reporting of disabilities from our applicants.
What The Caravan Project has learned
As this was our first year of delivering this project we have came up against a number of challenges but through thorough planning and partnership working we have overcame any obstacles. Examples of these include:
When we estimated the number of carers that would attend the Caravans we worked on the assumption of 2 carers attending with each child, however in hindsight what has actually happened has been slightly different. In some cases single parents have went on holiday with 1 disabled child and in other cases 2 carers have attended with 2 disabled children. From our discussions with the families it has also opened our eyes to the role brothers, sisters, grandparents and family friends play in providing carer support. To ensure we reach our target figure we have created 2 dedicated weeks in the year which are only available to young people with disabilities and their carers.
Our Season starts in March each year but our Summer holidays are allocated well in advance (January). This effectively meant that we were making allocation decisions before we knew we would have the grant from shared care Scotland. The manager and board however were 100% committed to its success and agreed that 50% of school holidays allocated would be awarded to families with a young person with a disability.
As stated above we suspect that there was an under reporting of the number of young people with disabilities accessing our Caravans each year. Although we have created a new form which specifically asks about disability a number of our referral partners are still using older forms which then requires further investigations to establish if they have a disability. To overcome this, we have sent out reminders for all partners to delete older forms and we will also include a detailed explanation of what constitutes a disability within our training we provide new referral partners.
How The Caravan Project has benefitted from the funding
When we set out to deliver our first ever targeted programme for young people with disabilities and their carers we recognised that we will need to develop our capacity and capability if we were going to deliver on our challenging targets. One year on we feel delivering this programme has brought a number of direct benefits: Staff have increased confidence in supporting young people with disabilities and their carers, our volunteer REP's have gained increased confidence and awareness in identifying suitable families and supporting them through the application process. Our partner projects have now been able to reach out to more people in their local communities to offer this new service. We have gained a new referral partners such as Quarriers who specialise in supporting young people and this expertise will be invaluable in the future as we develop our programme further. Our internal systems (databases, applications forms etc) are all now adapted to collate information on disability. Overall delivering this project has been a hugely rewarding experience for our staff, board, Volunteer REPS and most importantly the young people and their carers.
60 children and young people will have made had fun, developed friendships and do activities they enjoyed.
63 children and young people with disabilities were provided with FREE entertainment complex passes, providing access to the pool, children’s play area, golf course etc. And 63 young people with disabilities were provided with a discount card providing 50% off all paid-for sports and leisure activities.
Life has been a challenge for 14 year old Scott and his family. Suffering from both epilepsy and cerebal Palsy he found himself living in homeless accommodation in Drumchapel in North West Glasgow after his parents split up. Living with mum who was also his carer and brother and sister, money was tight and the family had never been on holiday together. Scott learned about the Caravan Project through the G15 Youth Project where he attended a local youth club. Our volunteer Caravan REP Robert Macklin who works for G15 supported the family through the application process. Once they arrived at Craig Tara for their week long holiday, Scott and his siblings were able to really enjoy FREE access the facilities on offer, particularly the massive swimming pool with flumes, indoor/outdoor play areas and the arcades. “We have never been on a caravan holiday together, so this holiday was really special” said his mum Angela. "We had the opportunity to relax, play games together and take part in activities". Angela added "After the year we have had it was great to see Scott having such a great time, free from worries and stress and just being a kid again. Thank you so much for making our dream come true”.
60 children and young people with disabilities and 120 carers will have improved wellbeing.
63 children and young people with disabilities were provided with a week-long respite holiday. 121 Carers were provided with a week-long respite holiday.
Debbie applied for a short break with her 3 children and partner after hearing about the Caravan Project at a drop in day at her sons Nursery. Debbie was struggling with the stress of caring for her son with autism and wanted the chance to relax and build better relationships with her loved ones. She said that “every day is a challenge. It is challenging for the other siblings as they don’t understand him and it is challenging as a mother over 24 hours. Sometimes you could be awake at 3.00 am in the morning to help." Fortunately, we were able to offer Debbie a week long respite holiday, and the whole family gained so much from being able to spend quality time together. “Seeing your kids happy is a great achievement… On the weekend we went to the roller disco and it was really fun. It’s so beautiful to look forward to a holiday.” Even if it is only for a few days, that small break can give the opportunity for parents and children to take a step back from some of the circumstances they face on a daily basis. “As a mother and carer of a child with autism, it was nice to have some space for yourself. You make more friends and you get the chance to build love and build relationships with the children” Debbie found the holiday had greatly impacted on her ability to cope with her circumstances and had had given her a renewed sense of optimism for the future.
120 carers will have will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
120 carers were provided with 1 weeks respite holiday in Craig Tara in Ayr . 120 carers were provided with FREE entertainment complex passes and discount cards.
Mandy had not been on holiday since 2010 due to not being in the right position financially. Her son Tom has been diagnosed with a learning disability and has Autism. and she suffered from mental health difficulties and physical health problems. Mandy approached the Caravan Project and we awarded her a 1 week respite holiday. Our Caravans hold up to 6 people and this enabled Mandy to bring along her sister and her partner on the holiday as well for some additional support with Tom. “This break meant the world to us, Tom loved every minute, we are so grateful to have had this opportunity" On a personal note Mandy was able to take a break from her caring responsibilities for a while each day and take advantage of the entertainment complex passes. " me and my sister would pop down to play bingo or even just grab a coffee and have a catch up. Just a small minute to yourself can make a huge difference" Mandy said that the holiday had greatly impacted on her ability to cope with her circumstances and also broadened her horizons.