Funshine Holiday Club
A story by Enable Scotland
We delivered a specialised children’s 2020 school holiday activity programme for children with a learning disability and complex needs.
The project provided children aged 4 to 18 with a fun and inclusive programme of activity throughout school holidays whilst providing carers with a break.
What Funshine Holiday Club did
We delivered Funshine to children and young people with a learning disability (LD) and/or other complex additional support need, aged 4 to 18 years, in North Lanarkshire. We provided bespoke support required by the children to access activities, form friendships and have fun, whilst in a safe environment supported by competent and experienced staff.
In doing so we provided valuable respite opportunities for carers and families to have a break from their carer role. Our service is fully inclusive and flexible to encompass family’s needs. Carer feedback tells us this is the only provision of this type in the area which is suitable for their children. The club offered fully accessible, exciting cultural, recreational, sport, play, arts and crafts activities for the children to participate in.
Ensuring personalisation, activities were decided upon by the children. Previously these were decided by parents consulting their children however we feel it important to increase the children’s ownership of the project and decision-making confidence. Holiday periods begin with a fun planning session with the children to choose activities and develop social bonds.
We will utilise accessible methods to ensure each child can give input regardless of ability. The activities included: swimming, cinema, bowling, museums, Science Centre. We delivered Funshine 5 days per week of school holidays, 10 am – 4 pm each day, over Easter, Summer, October and February breaks to 15 children and young people per session, effectively providing respite to up to 30 carers and families.
8 Personal Assistants will work directly with the children and young people, overseen by a Team Facilitator and Service Manager. Staff ratios are tailored to needs of children attending the service. Healthy snacks were included each day. Carers can leave their children with experienced staff in order to have a break from their caring duties and spend time with other siblings. For carers piece of mind, we provide individual verbal feedback at the end of every day alongside furnishing them with their child’s GIRFEC log. Carers have said this is very useful to see exactly what their child did.
What Enable Scotland has learned
The main challenge of capacity is a recurring one for the project as we ensure a safe ratio of one staff member per 2 children. We operate a waiting list for the project in order to provide support to others should anyone be unable to attend all sessions.
Although our staff have daily contact with carers, our challenge will be to connect our carers. Some carers have moved away from the support network opportunity since parents took responsibility for the WhatsApp group. Some parents found this to be less inclusive and so we seek to ensure a platform exists for all carers to have contact with others and share experience. We will do this through our planned events.
To understand the experience of carers further our staff will take part in training from North Lanarkshire Carers Together. This will support them to overcome any barriers they may experience in supporting carers accessing our provision. The training will reinforce staff ability to direct carers to suitable pathways of support where necessary.
How Enable Scotland has benefitted from the funding
We have built our partnership working with North Lanarkshire Carers Support Network and other providers to share information and experiences that will offer additional support and advice to our parents/carers. The NL Carers Support Network facilitated a training workshop for our staff in November 2019 to provide them with knowledge of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016. This has enabled our staff to be more carer aware as well as being aware of the needs of the young people in their care and to enable them to signpost our parents/carers as required to additional help and support. We currently run 2 adult ACE groups across the region, one in Cumbernauld and another in Airdrie. Our aspiration is to increase the reach of these clubs, including some youth clubs which the children of Funshine could be encouraged to attend. Our ACE clubs provide additional respite to carers but also allow the individuals to campaign for themselves for matters that they deem important. For instance, as a direct result of our campaign, Picking up the Pieces, the passing of The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 now means that every local authority and relevant health board must jointly prepare a local carers strategy, and all local authorities must establish an information and advice service for carers.
The programme will give children bespoke support required to access activities, form friendships and have fun, whilst being supported by our expert North Lanarkshire Children's Services team. Members of staff have local knowledge and are experienced in supporting children with learning disabilities
We monitored the effectiveness and impact of our project for children and young people by, utilising monitoring and evaluation methods of staff reflection and observation forms, individual plans, GIRFEC Wellbeing wheel, Photographs and media, carer questionnaires and informal conversations, documenting child and carer group planning meetings, creative accessible evaluation methods of children’s enjoyment. Identifying well-being outcomes related to SHANARRI indicators (Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included), highlighted in the Well-being wheel within GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child) for each child. Monitoring progress towards outcomes by closely observing a child at play and interacting with others, recording their development. This is measured through our initial planning process and continual evaluation against these identified indicators.
Mum – “There’s no provision or activities for additional support needs children in the whole of North Lanarkshire Council, I know this because I’ve looked. When school’s off my son gets very unsettled out of his routine. Having Funshine Club is a great break for me and let’s my son enjoy leisure activities in a safe environment”
15 children attending Funshine will be more able to access fun activities, relax and create friendships. 30 carers will experience improved personal wellbeing, identify a positive impact on their children and have increased support in their caring role
Well-being outcomes for each child were monitored throughout and evaluated at the end of the project, related to the SHANARRI indicators and highlighted in the Well-being wheel within GIRFEC. We sought feedback from children and young people on their enjoyment in the activities and from carers on how this project helped them. Carers were consulted throughout our service, to understand any extra support they need and how the service supports their wellbeing. Thoughts shared are recorded to aid discussion and to refer back to measure improvement in service delivery. Informal ‘Catch up’s’ were carried out with the carers beyond Funshine to record any thoughts of impact upon their wellbeing attributable to the project. Case studies were sought from each carer to evidence impact and be utilised in further development of Funshine.
“As a parent, you don’t think of yourself as a ‘carer’. You’re just doing what any parent would do, looking after your child. But, from talking to other parents, I realised that carers need support. When you hear people say they’re putting off going into hospital for an operation – because they’re worried about the support arrangements for their son or daughter – you realise there is a problem. Having Funshine is a big weight off my mind"
30 carers will report respite received through Funshine has enabled them to explore and access person centred activities and opportunities around their individual needs.
We measured success through a variety of methods which included: Staff consultations with carers (verbal and survey) to receive feedback on service delivery, quality, impact of support upon their child's development and confidence in the care provided. Carers attendance and input to three carer group meetings; initial planning, midway feedback, end celebration. Comments gathered from carer WhatsApp group and carers reported accessing person centred activities whilst their children were in the care of Funshine. Carer feedback reflected in service provision.
“ The staff are wonderful, I feel my child is safe with them and I know he is engaged in fun, stimulating activities, this means everything to us, it also provides us with the time to enjoy some spare time and relax doing what we like to do, before Funshine this would not have been possible"
30 carers will report feeling more resilient and have awareness and access to other sources of support
We recorded data for monitoring success through the following actions, we carried out informal conversations with carers to understand any extra support they need and how the service supports their wellbeing. Thoughts shared were recorded to aid discussion and to measure improvement in service delivery. We gathered information from carers through three group carers meetings; pre-planning, mid-way reflection, end of project celebration. We used these to also provide information to carer about our additional support services. Our Welfare Rights Advisor attended to discuss options with carers and what benefits they may be missing to increase income, making the service more approachable. Regular newsletters are produced for carers accessing Funshine. These include a documentation of the children’s Funshine journey, relevant helpful information on learning disabilities and carers rights, contact details for additional support.
“Without Funhsine I couldn’t work and make a nice life for my daughter. I don’t think about what lies ahead, it’s just too painful. I take every day as it comes and the support we get from Funshine helps make that a bit easier”.