A story by Cosgrove Care
EveryoneIn connected carers and cared for young people through initially short breaks and activity days and subsequently through online activities which focused on creative arts and wellbeing and outdoor activities.
The activities helped carers and cared for young people keep connected, well and supported.
What EveryoneIn did
EveryoneIn got to deliver 4 short breaks and 2 activity days prior to COVID-19 restrictions came into play. The breaks took place in Ayr, Calvert Lakes and Fife. The activity days of which we delivered three- took place in December 2019 and took place at Rouken Glen and May Terrace.
We provided opportunities for 190 carers and 164 cared for young people. Those who took part were either already connected to Cosgrove and connected via our social media, found out through social work, education of self referral through seeing promotion on our website and through our social media channels. Carers took part in 2 family forums during this time, allowing us to provide support, seek views and get carers connected.
COVID 19 restrictions did not stop this work- we amended this to deliver online wellbeing and creative arts sessions, volunteers delivered activity packs to families to ensure they could take part. In addition, we created safe outdoors space at Rouken Glen to allow children to continue to have support and carers to continue to get a break.
This has been very positive and has formed the basis of learning in terms of future support. We recruited over 300 local volunteers as part of our community response who supported delivery of kits to cared for young people and families to support them. We worked with Young Enterprise Scotland to make safe the environment at Rouken Glen for outdoor activities and short breaks. This was a particular success and ensured that families most in need got a break and support during a time when other support was cancelled.
The Project had to be adapted to meet restrictions, we had to implement infection control and PPE procedures and we had to deliver socially distanced outdoor activities and get families online and supported to ensure their wellbeing. The priority areas that EveryoneIn delivered was enabling carers to have a life out with their caring role through regular short breaks at a time when other support was cancelled, supporting health and wellbeing through targeted online activities designed to promote health and wellbeing of carers and cared for young people.
What Cosgrove Care has learned
Project Planning and Budgeting- we have learned to quickly adapt activities and approach to meet emerging need, to plan, implement, review and adapt and to connect with families about what they need and want. We carefully considered how we could make best use of the budget to meet the same needs in a different way.
Developing new short breaks activities- we have developed a regular Saturday outdoors session as a means to deliver ongoing short breaks to sustain families. This is an alternative and fun way to give families a break, focus on the outdoors and safe support delivery and develop confidence and friendships for cared for young people.
Dealing with unexpected challenges and opportunities. 2020 was a very different year for all of us providing essential support to the most hard to reach families. We learned a lot about the power of communities to come together and sustain each other, being bold and being prepared to find new ways to do things and new partnerships to work with and leveraging other sources of funding to make things happen.
The best example we have of this is securing £3,000 from East Renfrewshire Good Causes to provide chrome books to connect families digitally to online wellbeing sessions as part of our Creative Breaks funded activities. This allowed us to get around many hurdles and be as creative as possible.
How Cosgrove Care has benefitted from the funding
We developed new partnerships with local people and local churches to provide a rich stream of volunteers. We developed and worked in a different way with Young Enterprise Scotland around the physical use of space outdoors and converting this to provide safe zones to deliver short break activity. We piloted and then drove forward online activity sessions and build digital skills of many children and we secured funding to ensure we could develop and evolve to the changing environment. As an organisation, we have learned a lot about resilience, creativity and the power of communities to help those in most need.
Carers who we support through the provision of our 5 short breaks will have experienced a positive break from their caring role, safe in the knowledge that their family member has had a great and fun holiday. Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy life out with their caring role.
Carers had the opportunity to experience a break through both the 4 short breaks delivered and through the redesigned outdoor activity sessions that we put in place. We know from comments that families really appreciated this support at a time when much of their formal support was cancelled. Families have been under real stress through restrictions and having support in place helped maintain their wellbeing. The activities designed for cared for young people also had a focus on keeping healthy and well too. We know many families and children with disabilities have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, with many in the clinically vulnerable category. For those families, we have delivered activity packs to sit alongside online creative arts and wellbeing sessions. Families have told us that this has been a life saver for them, keeping them and their cared for young people connected with friends, learning and having fun.
D is a 13 year old boy who lives with his mum. Mum has only the support of her father and has had to give up her work to care for D and her father who is unwell. At the time of the family being referred, mum was under real pressure, D has diagnosis of autism in addition to Downs Syndrome and at the time was getting support with his hearing impairment which involved ongoing operations, causing stress to D. D was supported to go on a short breaks and has also connected to into the weekly activity sessions delivered during COVID. Mum is less stressed as the result of the positive support and her health and well-being has improved. D has benefitted in terms of his physical health, connections and stress levels. He loves the trampoline and bouncing on it with staff, running games, intensive interaction. His communication has developed with his team whereby he will use language where possible and visual cards and touch and facial gestures. Support within his home to allowed mum to go to work. This has had a positive effect in terms of her wellbeing and independence.
Additional project outcome
EveryoneIn achieved a further outcome of providing critical support to families in the greatest need through COVID-19, we used our volunteer network to deliver activity packs but also food boxes where required, books and toys to support families in most need.
P is 6 years of age. Referred by mum and dad along with his twin brother, P has been diagnosed with autism. The family were keen for input to support both him and his brother keep connected when apart from friends. They were keen at the earliest of stages to try and develop his language and play. They now do some of this, but also encourage outdoor care with him at the outdoor activity sessions. The team now know him well and can support his language and his learning with PECS, play, use of his communication tools/book. Recently we have now had to support family with reassessment of his needs to get the family more support as he is growing bigger, stronger and faster and has completely different support needs to his brother which could have at one time been a joint support. Cosgrove have become an extended family for him and the rest of the family. We very much support with a family centered approach. He has a wonderful, fun personality that lends itself to the play mainly water and fresh aired support at YES during holiday programmes and linking with anything sensory and messy. EveryoneIn has allowed continued development and support through this challenging time, helping keep the family together and supported.