Gardening Sessions and Events
A story by Sense Scotland
We delivered sessions for carers to learn about gardening and expand their peer support network, environmental arts activities for carers and the person they care for to enjoy together. Free time at the allotment saw carers who attended have a break, relax and access informal family advisory service if required.
What Gardening Sessions and Events did
We delivered 50 gardening sessions at the allotment (Glasgow) 12 environmental and outdoor arts sessions at the allotment (Glasgow)
8 environmental and outdoor arts sessions at garden (Lanarkshire). The majority of the sessions and activities took place in our allotment at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. The rest took place in our garden at TouchBase Lanarkshire. No sessions or events were held in the garden at TouchBase Ayrshire or TouchBase Dunbartonshire. However, carers from Dunbartonshire attended the sessions in Glasgow. The majority of sessions took place outdoors, but occasionally the sessions had to move inside due to the weather.
The majority of sessions and events were attended by carers of people we support including parents, siblings and cousins. Sometimes the carer brought the person they care for with them, other times - when respite was available - they came on their own. We advertised the sessions on our Facebook page, in our monthly families' newsletter and through local Carers Centres. We had three part-time staff attached to the project. All three brought different skills, qualities and experiences to the project.
Of the Creative Breaks Principles we set out to address, this project has effectively contributed to: mutual benefit, personalisation and targeted support.
In terms of successes, there were a small number of carers that regularly attended the sessions. They were able to form connections and a peer support network. They were also able to try new activities and develop their hobbies further.
This project was challenging for a number of reasons. We based our original application on feedback we received from a consultation with families. However, this consultation was quite small and maybe not truly reflective of the wider carer audience. As a result, uptake of sessions, particularly the gardening sessions at the allotment was low.
What Sense Scotland has learned
Extensive and varied consultation, prior to submitting our application to Creative Breaks, we undertook a small consultation with families regarding the idea of a gardening and allotment project. The feedback was positive, however, with hindsight we should have consulted more widely and offered a variety of options or utilised techniques to ensure a greater degree of co-production. This would have directed the project to meet the needs of a wider group of carers. We will endeavour to do this for future opportunities.
The personal approach is best, we utilised a number of approaches to promote and advertise the opportunities to families including social media and our families' newsletter. However, where we had greatest success in encouraging carers to participate was through direct engagement with a staff member. It can be daunting to go along to a new group, but if you know the facilitator, it can make it easier. This approach worked well in TouchBase Lanarkshire where one of our facilitators directly approached families and encouraged attendance. Going forward, we will consider how we promote projects to our staff and raise their awareness of projects. They can then promote new projects and encourage individuals to attend.
More than one manager with oversight of project, during the project the manager assigned to oversee the project moved on from their post. This created issues for the project staff as they lost their main point of contact. As a result, the issues with the promotion of the project and poor attendance were not identified and addressed early enough. By the time these issues became apparent, it was too late to remedy prior to the end of the project. In future, we will put in place a matrix management approach to ensure staff always have a point of contact.
Digital booking, we initially asked carers to book using Eventbrite. However, from feedback, we believe this was a barrier to attendance. Eventbrite and similar systems work well for our Early Years events but as this was an older audience who may be less familiar with these sites, we should consider alternatives. For the future, we will tailor our booking methods more appropriately to the audience.
How Sense Scotland has benefitted from the funding
The funding helped us to: Strengthen relationships with other third sector organisations based at the Bellahouston Park allotment, trial a project from which we will select the sessions and activities that had greatest impact and include these in our future plans. Build new relationships with carers and gain feedback to help inform future service offers and funding applications
20 carers will attend one or more sessions without the person they care for to receive a break from their caring role, 3 weekly 2 hr sessions at our Glasgow Allotment, 6x3hr chill zone sessions at our Glasgow Allotment
This outcome was partially achieved. We had very little interest in these sessions despite the best efforts of the staff member running the sessions. Thirteen different carers attended these sessions with many attending on multiple occasions. In total 42 carers attended these sessions over the duration of the project.
50 carers will report feeling better supported. 3 weekly 2 hr sessions at our Glasgow Allotment. 6x3hr chill zone sessions at our Glasgow Allotment
This outcome was partially achieved. During the course of the project we engaged with 13 different unpaid carers. Through these interactions we were able to help facilitate peer relationships, offer advice and support, encourage moderate physical activity, introduce art activities.
40 disabled adults and parents/carers report improved wellbeing. 3 weekly 2 hr sessions at our Glasgow Allotment. Monthly events and activities at our Glasgow Allotment and Sense Scotland gardens.
This outcome was partially achieved. In addition to the 13 carers, we also engaged with 20 people we support. Some of the people supported attended with support from Sense Scotland staff whilst their parent/carer took a break. Carers reported that they benefited from spending time outdoors with the person they supported and meeting other carers. The outdoor art activities were particularly popular and provided a focus for social interaction, more so than the gardening activities.
One family that attended the session spoke of their delight to be working on outdoor activities with their adult son. They don't often have the opportunity to participate in activities together, especially outside and reported that they had never done something like this before. The facilitator observed that the family formed a special connection, working together to successfully complete the tasks. The family were looking forward to continuing with the outdoor activities in their own garden.