Geeza Helping Hand
A story by Geeza Break
We provided centre based play sessions for children 5-12 years old during the 8 week school holiday periods. This was to enable Kinship Carers in Glasgow who have sole care of their grandchildren or relatives, as a result of parental addictions a break from their childcare responsibilities, while at the same time offering a positive and enjoyable experience for children.
What Geeza Helping Hand did
During October, Easter and Summer school holiday periods we offered 264 x 5 hour sessions to 43 children – 30 Carers. During the school holidays we run the Toffee Club, for children who are attending Primary School in partnership with the Jobs and Business Glasgow Rising Stars Team. The Toffee Club runs from St Mungo’s Academy in the Gallowgate. We also place children in various Out of School Centres throughout Glasgow, taking into consideration Kinship family circumstances and geographical concerns. These placements also come under the Toffee Club.
During the day which starts at 10am the children are involved with lots of fun activities, making new friends, learning new games, dressing up, arts and crafts, physical activities focusing on health and fitness. As an example the summer Toffee Club focused on a number of different themes such as “wonders of the world”, “under the sea” and “Glasgow”. Some of these activities were art based, some were through physical play and the curricular aspect of our programme was evident.
In the main hall the children had a varied choice. There were a number of planned activities each day as well as the option of free play. The children were able to get outside for play and other activities and some outings were organised. Outings and experiences were mostly linked to topics to enhance the children’s learning whilst still having fun. The children went to Blairdrummond Safari Park and also discovered Glasgow on an open top bus, visited the Transport Museum and Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum. We had visitors in the setting The Magician and Zoo Ed who linked literacy/story telling with showing and handling of animals.
Kinship Carers went up town shopping, to the library, had lunch/coffee with friends, to the hairdressers, to bingo, attended a yoga class.
She had to give up her job because she had no-one to care for the children and felt the eldest child was missing out because she no longer had the time to spend with her because the others required more attention.
The 11 year old is dyslexic and has Meares-Irlen Syndrome which is a form of visual stress and requires a lot of time with homework etc. Gran feels she benefits greatly when the boys attend T.O.F.F.E.E. Club. School holidays can be a stressful time especially when there are 4 children to care for. The staff at the T.O.F.F.E.E. Club spend time with the 11 year old boy who has Meares Irlen Syndrome and Dyslexia, which helps Gran out a lot. The boys really enjoy the T.O.F.F.E.E. Club and tell Gran all about their activities they have been involved in. Gran feels that attending the T.O.F.F.E.E. Club has definitely improved family relationships.
Overall Gran feels less stressed and better able to cope with the children in every day issues. Gran was able to spend time with the older girl as gran feels she misses out on a lot of attention as well as catching up with old friends for a coffee and a few trips to the bingo. Gran has managed to get the 3 year old into the nursery with the help of the family support worker which has been a god send.
Gran gave up her job to care for the children. The eldest child has Asperger’s Syndrome. There has since been an improvement with the 9 year olds emotional wellbeing and she is not as withdrawn anymore. The children attending the T.O.F.F.E.E. Club gives Gran much welcomed respite during the school holidays. The children loved the T.O.F.F.E.E. Club and settled in well. Gran really appreciated the days allocated to the children during the school holidays. The children benefitted by getting the opportunity to play and meet new and old friends whilst in a safe and stimulating environment.
Gran observed positive change in the children’s behaviour towards each other. Overall Gran feels there has been significant improvement in the following, Family routines, family relationships and communication within the family unit. As a direct result of this, Gran’s stress levels have been significantly reduced
And gran was able to attend the kinship groups and see other family members
Whilst the Aunt is caring for the children, the childrens’ parents are engaging in parenting capacity assessments to determine if the children can be rehabilitated to their care. All the children are doing well in School despite significant history of absence and late coming.
The aunt works full-time and was struggling for options for childcare during the School holidays. The children attending the TOFFEE Club allowed the aunt to keep a good work/life balance, allowing her to better able sustain her caring role. The children were able to attend from 10am to 4pm each day which allowed the aunt to attend work in the knowledge that the children were safe and having fun. This led to her being less stressed allowing her to support the children better.
Through evaluation, the children revealed that they were all happy, had fun and made new friends at the TOFFEE Club. This opened up communication at home and improved family relationships.
What Geeza Break has learnedGeeza Break is confident that our play provision through the Toffee Club fosters children’s independence and self-esteem as well as developing children’s respect for others. Our play provision also supports the children’s well-being, healthy growth and development and increases knowledge and understanding and promotes creativity and the capacity to learn.
There was a heavy demand for places at the October, Easter and Summer Toffee Clubs. The holiday periods seem to be the most stressful times for Kinship carers and the funding from Shared Care Creative Breaks has allowed us to provide additional respite for the Kinship carers.
We have been able to offer Kinship Carers Toffee Club sessions but they have reported back that a choice of respite would best meet their needs including Respite Care, Respite Sitting as well as Toffee Club which would provide a more tailored and personalised service. Having a choice of different respite sessions such as an over night gives kinship carers a good break and it is important to meet differing needs of all service users.
Geeza Break works in partnership with many local organisations and has a unique link worker partnership with FASS. We also promote our services widely which ensures that we attract new Kinship Carers many of whom are reluctant to ask for support if they think social services are involved. Being a charity they are much more willing to make contact with us.