A story by TEAM UNITED
Team United provided sports summer camps for children and young people with disabilities in 3 locations during the school holidays in Spring 2020 and Summer 2020.
The activities ran in partnership with local community clubs and offered the same opportunities to all.
What GAME ON did
Due to COVID we needed to make some alterations to our planned activity and this report covers the organisation having to carry forward some activity for a 6 month period.
We tried to offer a more flexible approach to delivering sessions and often this had to be done out with school holidays and when local restrictions were lifted. We also delivered one to one sessions and small group sessions when it was possible to do so.
What TEAM UNITED has learned
There are a number of one parent families, kinship carers and a high percentage of children that attend who are in foster care or have been adopted.
We have learnt that we need to promote our activities to new audiences and identify new partners.
How TEAM UNITED has benefitted from the funding
As this extension was during COVID and changed because of local restrictions, we learnt a lot about the way in which we deliver our services. How we can adapt and what action needs to be taken quickly. We had to react to changing situations and offer different ways - for example smaller groups, different environments and finding venues that were not normally accessible. We also found that the anxiety levels of children we work with was very volatile during this period. We had to offer more intervention work and deal with issues of self harm which has enabled us to consider the needs of children and the great difficulties carers have been living with during this period. Carers benefited more from our service this time as they had been at home during lockdown with their child and had no break whatsoever.
Young people participating in the school holiday project will continue their involvement and participation in sport and physical activity weekly sessions
We had a high number of continued participation and interest from carers in our activities. As we were unable to guarantee when our activities would recommence on a regular basis, we held details of all the families and contacted them when sessions resumed. At the time of writing this report 80% of the young people who took part in our holiday provision have now transitioned to regular attendance in our activities.
Tom, a young person aged 8 years old joined our activities for the first time. He was dis-engaged at school and in his community. He had no friends and had a tragic family background before being put in to foster care. HIs family were desperate to find suitable activities for him where he could socially interact with his peer group. He has attachment issues to the family and life was proving very hard for them. The carer knew that physical activity was not something Tom would necessarily take to or had mentioned he liked to do but she was prepared to try anything to get him out of the house that suited his needs so she could have a break. Tom was challenging, his behaviour concerning but after two days of continued support, we found something Tom enjoyed connected to physical activity. He wanted to be a doctor when he left school and so we created a role for him in the sessions, attending to first aid duties with his peers if something occurred. Not actually performing first aid but identifying if someone was hurt, alerting the coach and getting the kit. This helped sustain his involvement in the physical activity and kept his attention focused. This approach resulted in Tom coming back to our school holiday provision in 2021 and he sustained his attendance. The family were relieved, have gained a longer break from caring and has even let other family members pick him up to ensure she had a longer period of a break. Tom has asked to come back to our sessions regularly
Carers will report an increase in their own well-being having had more time to spend doing activities they enjoy and are beneficial to them
An increased number of carers, particularly parent carers left their child in our care instead of watching from a far. This way they gained from time away from their caring role albeit restricted due to COVID..
Carer T, Her child had extreme anxiety and attachment issues. She was afraid of his behaviour if she left him or if he found that she was out of his sight for short period of times. The one to one support from our team during sessions enabled us to identify new ways of working with her child, gave him reassurance and confidence. This in turn enabled the carer to drop her child off and go away for the duration of the holiday camp. Her mood was noticeably improved and reported feeling less stressed and found our strategy approach something she would try at home.
Improved relationships both with their child through making good community connections
Due to the duration of our activities, many parents choose to stay close by and meet with other carers, using this time to share information that they find beneficial to their caring role and the wellbeing of their child. In East Lothian, one of the parents had recently become a member of a local Information hub. She found the experience uplifting and her role within this group fulfilled as she was able to engage carers and refer them to services in the local community that they would benefit from.
FLIP Family local Information Point were able to provide information on their sessions to parents and carers whey found difficult to reach. They used parent members who were volunteers to attend sessions to engage in conversation, promote their service and also refer to other organisations who may support them and the wider family. There was a great amount of interest for Kindship carers and this resulted in FLIP organising a special evening session in which 8 carers attended.