Friday and Saturday Fun
A story by Bright Sparks Play Groups
We provided family sessions and activities in our Centre and provided opportunities for family activities out in our community on a Friday afternoon and Saturday for children with disabilities in Midlothian.
What Friday and Saturday Fun did
We delivered various activities including family sessions in our Centre with arts and craft, football coaching, puppet shows and magic shows. We also had activities out with the Centre which included tubing, Butterfly Farm, bowling. These activities were arranged each week during term time on a Friday afternoon and Saturday.
All our registered families were offered the opportunity to take part including siblings. We employed new members of staff to support the project. We addressed complex needs of the children, independence and sport and leisure activities. This project was successful in that we had new families access the service because they could attend as a family and because it was at the weekend when the carers were not working.
We did not have the older teenage age group accessing many of the activities so we offered them a separate activity once a month on a Friday evening that they came along with their carer.
What Bright Sparks Play Groups has learned
Additional time is required for planning activities. We learnt that there were many other families that were not using our service but once they heard about the Friday afternoon and Saturday they registered and came along because they could come as a family or that they could come because they were not working at the weekend.
The budget gave us the opportunity to offer and promote new activities to families and develop our service. Partnership working with "buy in services" allowed us the opportunity to bring new activities to our Centre, in a safe environment for our families.
We got off to a slow start due to our local communities having Gala Day celebrations on during the month of June. It is difficult to get specific funding for carers and young people and families as a whole. Better Breaks is one of the few organisations that recognises the challenges that carers and young carers face each day.
How Bright Sparks Play Groups has benefitted from the funding
We have definitely forged new partnerships and links with some of the "buy in services" we have engaged with and have already used them in other session in our service. The funding allowed us to pilot our Teen Club, that now meets once a month on a Friday evening, the grant showed us that we had a gap in our service we were not aware off. The funding budget also gave us the opportunity to look at our local community and research and find activities that were local to us to "buy in" and also the opportunity to visit local places of interest such as the local Butterfly Farm.
40 children over 2 sessions each week will have the opportunity to have fun and enjoy new activities in a safe and stimulating environment.
We reached our target with the number of children attending the activities with their carers. Many of the activities took part in our Centre, which the families were familiar with and felt safe and encouraged by our staff and volunteers to try the new activities we offered.
Our children loved the arts and crafts in the Centre. They loved the sensory room and the soft play was a "big hit" Really good art sessions. Great getting the opportunity to try things we can't try at home.
We show success in this area with children and young people feeling less stressed and anxious while taken part in an activity outside of the home environment.
The children and young people that have attended the sessions have enjoyed them and have come back to other sessions. The young carers and siblings are also coming along with their parent/guardian so they have the extra added comfort and security from them that they are not attending the project on their own, they are supported by them along with our staff and volunteers.
We both loved it. It gave us both the freedom and confidence to let him play independently without the worry of him and I being judged.
Opportunities to have peer to peer support from other families.
Families have told us in the survey monkey we put out to them at the end of the project, that one of the greatest benefits that the project have given them is the support of attending activities with other families that are in similar situations to them.
Loved chatting to new parents. Chatting to parents in similar situations. The sense of relief of being somewhere that people weren't judging your children's behaviours or your parenting. Felt very welcome by staff and other parents.
Opportunities to attend a relaxed environment to be supported by other families along with the support of our staff and volunteers. Young carers will have the opportunity to meet with others in a similar situation and the opportunity to build friendships within the project settings.
Many of the activities took place in our Centre, which is familiar to our families so they were not nervous or intimidated by coming along to a strange new building to take part in the activities we offered. We also always provide tea and coffee at the Centre, which helps carers to feel relaxed and gives them the opportunity to speech to other carers either during an activity or after an activity has finished. All our activities for the project were offered to the "whole family unit" so young carers and siblings could attend with the disabled child(ren) and have the opportunity to meet and make friends with other children/young people similar in age or who were in similar caring role to them.
He is very sociable and quickly made a friend with another little boy there. They each helped each other with the craft activity of making fruit skewers. Lewis enjoyed it so much that he agreed to attend the evening youth clubs and absolutely loves it.