Family Day Project
A story by Parents Inclusion Network
Over the April, summer and October school holidays we have offered 19 family day events across the authority, ranging from pony driving to golf, fishing, den building and orienteering in a forest, play at a farm park, chocolate making, icecream making and sailing at an activity centre.
In partnership with Quarriers we were able to provide pony driving in Stranraer, a remote part of the region. The families in Stranraer were particularly grateful as the pony driving centre was completely across the other side of the region.
We bring families together to reduce isolation and encourage social interaction between adults and the their children in a safe, supportive environment. The events give the kids and their parents some needed structure to their holidays and allows parents and children the opportunity to socialise with others who 'just get it'. We pay for all entry fees and travel costs.
Tip 1:Families report the benefit they feel from being part of PIN at any activity – as opposed to being part of the general public. Activities are organized and structured and there is no feeling of judgement from others. Families report the reassurance of participating in events we have organized.
Tip 2:Provide a wide range of activities throughout the region which caters for all age groups and gives everyone the opportunity to take part in whatever activity appeals - and /or to try new ones.
Tip 3:Establish a good relationship with the managers of the venues used and spread awareness of diversity.
"The Family Days have made a huge difference to my son’s life. The disabilities he has mean that he cannot participate in ‘normal’ activities. Without these days out he would be sitting at home all day with nothing to do apart from watch TV and play computer games. It is wonderful for him to be able to get out and try different things. He doesn’t feel out of his depth and he is able to mix with peers – it has made a huge difference to his confidence and social skills."
"I only found out about u guys this year ....and what a difference you have made to our life :) ....My son had a brilliant time this summer and "finally" got to go fishing....catching the "whoppa of the day" ....something so small has made his dreams come true .Thank you !!!!!! "
"I would like to say how much the family days have helped us as a family. Before I joined PIN we didn’t really do much as a family because outings could be very stressful and people wouldn’t understand why my son was doing certain things. The family days have helped because I have been able to talk to other parents who understand what I’m going through and share ideas. I have also made some good friends through attending them."
"As a parent of a disabled daughter, I feel it is very difficult to find places to socialise when you have a family members who does not fit into normal situations. PIN has provided some great family get-togethers and family days which have motivated us to join others who are ‘in the same boat’. The whole family has benefited and look forward to whenever these days are on. You may have had a stressful day but not many people leave without a smile on their face and think it was worth it."
Children could take part in new activities and learn new skills, building confidence and self-esteem and parents, carers and children make friends with others who are in the same situation and can relate, reducing social isolation and building confidence in participating in similar events.
During all our get-togethers we informally ask our members about activities they would like to take part in. Every year the numbers are increasing which is testament to the benefit they feel their family is getting.
The Council offers activities for young people with a disability who meet their criteria, but they do not pay for parents/carers’ travel, making it difficult for some families. We do liaise with the Council to ensure we don’t offer our activities on the same day. We also work with a third sector organization to offer pony driving to families in a remote area of the region.
We have further examples we could share if required.
Feedback after the long summer holiday also showed that families welcomed the structure our family day events provided, giving them ‘strength’ to cope during the tough and isolated holidays.
The unexpected good weather was also enjoyed by all.
At the events we also chat to all the parents and carers about how they and their young person are enjoying the event and how they feel they are benefiting from it. We ask parents/cares if they feel there is anything else we could be doing that would be helpful in terms of our family days. We also encourage families to attend other family day events which they would enjoy.
We also sent out 45 random emails to our members asking for their feedback. 25 reported back and their feedback is included in this application.