Disability Shetland Holiday Club
A story by Disability Shetland
We provided a holiday club which runs for 6 weeks during school holidays. This club provided educational, cultural and recreational activities for children and young people with disabilities and additional support needs.
It helped to assist their personal development and enable their parents to experience respite for the duration of the club.
What Disability Shetland Holiday Club did
The Holiday Club ran over 6 weeks during school holidays, 1 week at Easter, 4 weeks over summer, and again 1 week during the October break. The club was available 3 days each week from 10am to 3pm, 18 days per year. We used a combination of approaches often providing activities directly, and also providing support to access available community based activities.
This included swimming, arts/crafts, drumming, boat trips, and visits to play parks, museum and fire station, to name only a few. We also arranged bus trips to various rural locations throughout Shetland. The club provided valuable respite to carers during these 18 days. This allowed them to devote time and enjoy fun experiences with other siblings who were likewise on holiday from school. In other cases carers were able to take time out from their usual hectic routines to engage in pleasurable and relaxing pursuits, particular during the summer holidays when the weather was more amenable to outdoor activities.
At the start of the year approximately 50 children attended our regular clubs throughout Shetland. We invited these to take part in the Holiday Club by providing programmes and booking forms. We also made our service known to local schools. Head teachers were able to refer any children that they felt may benefit from the service. Over the year we recruited an extra 5 volunteers to work at the Holiday Club to augment our current pool of volunteer support workers.
Malcolm’s love of the Holiday Club means that his grandmother can leave him there in the knowledge that he will be happy and looked after, while she is able to carry out her tasks and also spend some time with her friends.
Once she is there, Joyce is enabled to come out of her wheel-chair and take part in specially prepared activities. She clearly enjoys relating to other children and volunteers and takes on new physical and mental challenges with courage and determination.
Her happiness is increased because she is convinced that the recent improvement in his behaviour is due to his experiences of relating to other children and young volunteers at the club.
What Disability Shetland has learnedWe have learned that personalisation works best. Our clients experience a range of disadvantages, we therefore developed and tailored our activity programmes to meet individual needs. Our Project Co-ordinator works closely with teachers and other professionals to ensure that the work we do is consistent with the children’s overall care and learning strategies. He attends regular review meetings in schools, which have highlighted the effectiveness of our service.
We have learned the need for flexibility in our approach when working with individual families. Many of these are single parent families, and as such the pressures of providing activities for their disabled children are exacerbated, especially during the school holidays. Personal disadvantages are increased for some by the fact that they live in remote rural communities, making access to services difficult. We work closely with families, and together create plans which will help support their individual needs.
We have learned the importance of investing in our volunteer support workers. We encourage our volunteers to develop close relationships with our clients, creating a foundation of trust and respect. To maintain consistency and continuity within our service it is important that volunteers feel valued. We work with our volunteers to identify appropriate goals and targets. Support is then provided enabling them to achieve success.