Glee, Wee Glee and Film Clubs
A story by SupERkids
SupERkids provided drama, music and dance groups in East Renfrewshire, where young people with multiple support needs developed self-confidence, expressed themselves and made friends.
The clubs allowed young people to have independent fun while their parents and siblings had a break from caring.
What Glee, Wee Glee and Film Clubs did
The Better Breaks funded SupERkids programme has enabled Glee and Wee Glee clubs in East Renfrewshire. The young people who benefited from these clubs all had multiple support needs and were invited to attend through emails and fliers sent out to all carers of young people with additional support needs in East Renfrewshire.
Glee ran from September 2018 to March 2019 and culminated in a production of the Wizard of Oz. The most important objective of Glee is inclusion and all young people were involved. Each of the 28 children, irrespective of whether they were verbal or non verbal, had lines to say with AAC devices linked to the sound system. We used an inclusive drama group called DASE, (Dance Act Sing Enjoy), and each week the club ran for 2½ hours.
Wee Glee ran on a Monday evening from 6.00 to 7.45pm from September 2018 to March 2019 in the local Additional Support Needs School, which worked well for the 20 children aged from 5-11 years. Wee Glee culminated in a sharing event of the weekly performances on DVD. Paragon Music, was used and they made each week fun and exciting. The carers were invited to a sharing event where they watched the DVD and interacted with Paragon and other families. Musicalee was piloted over 8 weeks
For both clubs, the carers had time to spend with other family members and all carers had up to 2.5 hours weekly respite and more around the show. Many carers commented that they were able to spend time with other siblings whilst their child was at a Glee/Wee Glee Club and many said that they were able to do activities that couldn’t be done with their young person in tow.
The older mainly male teenagers have been less likely to attend Glee but are keen to be involved in a drama-based event. The film club ran was the Pirates of the Clyde and included kids using a green screen and acting their parts from a scrip they wrote.
The Clubs directly address the issues of independence and the complex needs of young people living in East Renfrewshire. SupERkids, is a carer led organisation & the project went to plan & was successful in reaching a broad age group of kids who cannot go anywhere else for clubs due to their high level of care needs.
What SupERkids has learned
We are pleased that the clubs have continued their popularity but this has come at a cost with sessional staff costs higher than we budgeted for. SupERkids have never turned away a child due to their high levels of support needs and although we budgeted for 8 sessional staff each week for Glee and Wee Glee, 11 were required and this had a knock on effect on how we prioritised the resources we had. In addition, sourcing other funding and squeezing down costs where we could was a big achievement for the parent group.
Our funding efforts have been high and we have been successful in gaining funds from the Community Fund, Children in Need as well as for Better Breaks funding. In addition, our website has made a difference in that new families are being given our details from the local carers centre, the local additional support needs school and also from social services.
New families email and call us and we have had many new young people attend through this. However, social media is still not used to its greatest effect but this is something that we are always looking into both the positives and negatives.
How SupERkids has benefitted from the funding
Through funding from Better Breaks we have been encouraged to change our legal structure and are currently working towards becoming a charity and are applying to become a SCIO. As the SupERkids parents committee is made of carers with kids with multiple support needs who volunteer their time, this is a big endeavour but one that we will need to do to continue our project in its current format. SupERkids also piloted a new service called Musicalee. This was aimed at older young people with multiple complex needs and the young people who attended enjoyed it immensely. However, it did not gain the levels of attendees as it was later time slot after Wee Glee and it proved difficult for parents to get their young people to leave the house for a 7.45pm club as it was out of their routine. Through our funding with Better Breaks, it has helped strengthen our organisations reputation. SupERkids is a grass roots community based group with no overheads, no office building and no employees. Over the last six years we have been active, we have spent just over £300,000, of which 99.6% has been deployed directly in supplying activities that benefit the kids. Due to your funding, SupERkids was nominated for a National Diversity Award by the Head Teacher at the local special needs school where many SupERkids attend. We were shortlisted from 24,500 nominations to the last 8 in the UK and although we lost out to the ADHD Foundation, we were very proud of the community recognition we have received. Some of the comments made are listed below: "It has been a pleasure getting to know Nicola and the SupER Kids team. As the member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire I have had the privilege of attending the Glee club annual show. It was one of the most memorable moments of my first year as an MP. Every one was included and embraced by the whole team. It was very clear that through the children's journeys with supER Kids they had grown in confidence and self esteem. SupER Kids gives children and their families the opportunity to socialise and have fun together in environments where no one is excluded or ignored. We can learn a lot from this organisation! " "This is a truly remarkable organisation. The volunteers are incredible and the club's are really diverse, fun and engaging. My son has greatly enjoyed many clubs and I could not endorse this group more." This is a fantastic, totally inclusive group that shows every member of our community is as valued as the next." "This fantastic group fill a gap in East Renfrewshire providing a fantastic after school activities to a vulnerable section of society. They are so enthusiastic and encourage people to volunteer which also helps prevent social isolation." Our funding efforts have been significantly higher than previously and we have been successful in gaining funds from the Community Fund, Children in Need and also from Better Breaks for 2019/20.
Young people will have increased confidence, independence and social interaction from continued attendance at Glee clubs.
The difference in the young people after attending our clubs has been apparent for everyone to see. There was a high level of attendance from young people in all clubs which ran over a seven month period from September 2018 to March 2019 on a weekly basis and only was not on if we could not gain access to the facility. A group of up to 30 young people attend Glee and their performances in a Wizard of Oz was full of confidence and accomplishment. The performers were then part of a talent show the next week where they put on an unprompted amazing signed version of the Greatest Showman. The project ran 26 Glee and 25 Wee Glee clubs over the funding period as well as a 9-week film club, (festive period dates meant that there was 3 weeks that school lets were unavailable). The Wee Glee sharing event showcased the weekly recorded activities and the change in the interaction with the facilitators and care workers from beginning to end of the project was immense.
One family has been under extreme stress as one parent has been diagnosed with cancer. Her son had a leading role, although he is non verbal and she sent the following message: "Yesterday our family attended the Glee drama groups production of the Wizard of Oz. This was only possible with the helping dedication of specialist staff and parents who support this. Some of the children can't speak, walk and have many other difficulties." "F played **** and complete with his dog onsie and facepainted came on to the stage. Along with his friends, he showed that success is not being the best at something but by giving joy to others by being you and enjoying whatever you do and no child was left out" "Having his face painted and the bright lights would have been difficult and intolerable before, but F has developed to take part in this, he has learned new skills and with his friends brought a lot of people joy and laughter with their award winning performance and his bow at the end backwards instead of forwards said it all. I had a lovely day yesterday and I am thankful for the gist of these beautiful children. My day turned out better by giving a few pounds donation than paying hundreds of pounds to watch a west end show. Most of all my day was brightened by seeing my child develop and for the biggest smile ever." Since then we have learned that her illness is responding well to treatment.
The wider community and friends and family will see the young person with additional support needs achieving through their performance and they will see them become more confident and resilient.
The project allowed each young person who attended each week the option of being with friends and having fun in an accepting environment. Through the show, sharing event and film premiere, families and and the wider community could see that their additional support needs young people have social skills and can have fun with their peer group and that their happiness can be contagious. The project provided young people with the feedback and recognition of their work and achievements and increased the presence of these young people in the community. When people know that their kids are happy, it has a knock on effect in the family and the time apart can be used most beneficially for all parties. The final performance is important however seven months of clubs, learning as much as possible allows an increase in confidence and social skills of the young people who are amongst the most vulnerable in society through being supported by staff and facilitators who understand them.
At Wee Glee Club, kids attend where they play music and dance and have fun together. On those bare words it sounds simple but the communication and interaction that takes place has even teachers in the school amazed. There are two children who have had their time transformed one is a boy (non verbal) who would initially stand at the side and run away if anyone came close. Through the interaction by Paragon, where they worked with him each week he now initiates interaction with Paragon facilitators and support staff and provides the biggest smiles in the room. Another girl (also non verbal) will communicate with the facilitators and her teacher who was passing by after working late was amazed by the interaction and had never seen her do it before in a school environment. Both sets of parents have been delighted at the confidence and social interactions shown by their young person.
The provision of over 7,741 hours of respite to parents and carers.
7,752 hours were provided from the project. We monitor the number of clubs ran and their attendance. We can identify the number of carers receiving respite based on the additional support needs young people who attend. Through surveys and consultations, carers were asked if more Glee clubs would assist them in more opportunities to enjoy life rather than the performance. All carers replied that the performance was a significant support to them. Each family decides how they spend the time whilst their kids attend the Glee clubs and it is important to them that our clubs are supported by trained staff who are aware of the care needs of the young people and enables their attendance without parents. Our clubs encourage and support young people to interact, socialise and communicate with others within the group. They have a huge amount of fun, are in control of their enjoyment, have a real feeling of ownership in their club with matching hoodies and spend time with their peer group where they can be together.
"My son has autism and attends the film club ran by SupERkids. It is life changing for him and I don't say that lightly. The enthusiasm, care and passion that goes in to organising such a wide variety of clubs is priceless and all voluntary. Every penny raised goes directly to the kids and the clubs, events and parties they run. No staff costs at all. There are businesses taking salaries in the local area running far, far less services for young people with additional support needs and, most importantly, the clubs run for a nominal fee. Film Club is £40 for a club that runs for a total of 20 hours. That is a phenomenally cheap service with the highest quality support staff present. Other support services in the area start at £15 per hour for care. This makes support a vast expense for most families. SupERkids low cost means these clubs are accessible to everyone and high quality support and a huge variety of clubs are not the privilege of the few." "This is a wonderful group. My lovely niece has additional support needs and has really enjoyed her time in SupERkids. This has helped her in building friendships thus reducing social isolation. It is a godsend for her parents too. In particular my niece enjoyed the glee and drama club. This gave her an outlet for her undoubted talent and her confidence has grown as a result. Keep up the good work!!! "
Positive feedback from parents, especially those in greatest need. One single parent mother said that she had been given a bit of “me” back as Glee has enabled her to go to the gym at the weekend by doing something for her rather than her non-verbal son with multiple complex needs.
During the project, evaluation methods were used including surveys, meetings and consultation events to gain feedback from carers and young people. The move to Mearns Castle High School was a major change and a successful one. As Glee Club had more children in wheelchairs, we needed a space where we could move around on the one level and where there were adequate changing facilities. In addition, having the theatre on a weekly basis meant that the young people were not fazed on show day and we did not need to organise visits and it meant that it was a routine day rather than one where it was all new.
Parents constantly referred to the isolation of their young people at weekends and one parent said that Glee had “helped her daughter find her passion for drama and performance” and that “she loved being part of a collective of like minded individuals” This single parent family bought 28 tickets for the show and all her family, friends and school teachers came for her leading lady role. In addition, one parent said “Glee has helped us tremendously as a family. It gives us time to have a bit of respite and time out to enjoy spending time with C’s sister who often misses out due to C’s needs. Sometimes, I just sit with a coffee and relax knowing that C is having a fabulous time in the best of hands.” She also said that she hoped Glee would continue for a further year, as “C would be devastated as we would all as a family as it has given her skills and confidence and the ability to perform” Another parent said that “Glee has given H an avenue for expression and helps her confidence” is pleased that his children can see themselves as equals as they both have a drama class on a Saturday and are in a show. One young person would not leave the house at weekends before he came to Glee and “the difference in R since he started Glee is amazing. He’s gone from being reclusive at the weekends to being eager to go out in the mornings”. She said that this time is the only 2 hours in the week where he will go without me” and that “it lets her do things I cannot do when he is with me.” The project also has had positive responses from Wee Glee as “a happy and enthusiastic L makes for a happy mum. She has come on leaps and bounds and her confidence has grown through attending Wee Glee. It helps our family as it helps L” In addition, “Wee Glee is the only club that C attends where I get some respite. It gives me the opportunity so spend time with my other children.” In addition, “my son loves Wee Glee and has made friends there. His social interaction has really improved and he loves learning about music.
Additional project outcome
To cover every age and gender demographic from age 5 through Glee, Wee Glee and Film Club.
To run a film club to enable the mainly teenage male age group to attend a club with their peer group and focus on other areas than video games alone in the house. The final production of a DVD and YouTube video and the showing of the film to the people that matter to the young people. This year was a Pirates of the Caribbean related, called Pirates of the Clyde which was premiered at the BBC studios in Glasgow. As a parent group we all have SupERkids at different ages so understand the needs of each demographic. A parent recently asked a member of the SupERkids parents group if they were looking to make more changes to disability issues in the UK. She replied that she didn’t want to change the world, just the worlds of the kids who attend. As parents we all have to advocate for our kids with complex support needs and although we cannot all be fighters, we can make a difference at a local level in our community. Thank you for helping us do that.