Glee, Wee Glee and Music Club
A story by SupERkids
SupERkids provides activities for children with multiple support needs in East Renfrewshire. This project provided supported activities to the young people who attend as there are no other clubs in the area that would accept their unsupported attendance due to their care needs.
What Glee, Wee Glee and Music Club did
SupERkids provided weekend and weekday activities to its beneficiaries with multiple support needs on 30 weekends and 29 weekdays from September 2021 to June 2022. Activities were provided every Saturday and Monday night during term time that the facility was available.
On a Saturday, three sessions of two hours were provided from 9.30 to 4pm enabling young people to have an activity at the weekend and their parents / carers some respite. The first session was Glee Club which was drama based and the following two sessions were SupERSaturdays organised by age, with varied activities each session.
On a Monday evening SupERkids ran Wee Glee and Music Club from 6pm to 8.30pm, organised by age, with music and dance activities for young people with more complex support needs.
All clubs and activities were held at Isobel Mair School, the specialist facility in East Renfrewshire with the necessary equipment needed for the young people attending.
The young people who attended each club were supported to attend by sessional support staff, thereby allowing parents and carers respite while their young person attended independently. Parents and carers used this time in different ways, from working to spending time with siblings or family activities that were tougher with their SupERkid.
Each SupERkid was invited to attend the clubs through fliers sent out and were asked what type of activities they wanted to do. Due to Covid issues, numbers were restricted to enable safety and social distancing where necessary. The number of young people at Glee had to be reduced, consequently, SupERSaturdays were introduced to ensure that all children who wanted a weekend activity were able to attend.
The extension of the project until 30th June 2022 accommodated the Glee Club performance in front of friends and families, we were only able to obtain a facility for the performance in June 2022. This meant that all the young people were able to perform in front of their families and guests, including our MP and show off their skills. Our project went to plan in terms of the activities but the work in the background was immense and time consuming.
What SupERkids has learned
Covid has continued to force us to deal with unexpected challenges. Our unique position as parents and carers for own children who are beneficiaries creates resilience and determination to overcome whatever obstacles arise. This continues to be tested more than ever during what continues to be a challenging period and by focusing on the outcomes for our beneficiaries rather than the activities we have historically undertaken, we have adopted the service provisions to provide the project that could be provided within the restrictions in place to deliver the outcomes both desired and most desperately needed.
Creativity and personal knowledge of the issues that our families face has also helped SupERkids to respond well to our challenges and we have developed new short break activities to provide some of the most affected children in Scotland with some fun and their parents some deserved respite. Our thanks to the Better Breaks fund and Shared Care Scotland for allowing us to be flexible and provide much needed services.
SupERkids have learned that we can have more confidence in our abilities to respond. As a wholly volunteer based charity, we frequently question our abilities to meet the needs of our beneficiaries and whether an employee managed service would deliver better outcomes for our children. Having witnessed other service providers retrenching, we were even more resolved to expand our service provision and deliver the most that could be achieved knowing that the needs of our beneficiaries were greater than ever.
The speed at which we amended our activities is something that as a parents group we are extremely proud of and we are more confident than ever that we are best placed to define and deliver the activities which meet the outcomes we detailed in our original funding application.
How SupERkids has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has been instrumental in SupERkids securing funding from other organisations allowing us to increase our service provision. It has provided the bedrock of our activities which we have showcased to other funders who have found both the activities and the parent / carer led volunteer based model compelling. Without the funding from Better Breaks, it is unlikely that other funders would have found our unusual organisational structure attractive. We have been able to respond flexibly and creatively to the needs of our SupERkids and provide new clubs and activities to some of the most vulnerable in our community.
Young people will have increased confidence, independence and social interaction from continued attendance at Glee clubs.
This year, with much organisation, our planned activities took place. As SupERkids is ran on a voluntary basis by parents of kids with multiple support needs, there is a high level of understanding of what needs to be done, even in changing circumstances. We ran 30 Glee and SupERSaturday Clubs as well as 29 Wee Glee and Music Clubs. Our Clubs provide a safe social environment, which is active, accepting and inclusive and are set up to target the children who want to do these activities but are excluded due to their multiple care needs. We have many 1:1 supports and a few 2:1 supports and have kids with challenging medical issues who safely attend. SupERkids have never turned away a child from a club as we know as parents that it is often the children that need a great deal of support that are most in need for both carer and child. Watching the young people blossom with confidence is a gift and social interaction was a lifeline to those attending all clubs.
It is vital that the opinions of parents/carers and kids are highlighted in the report - these are the people who benefit from the service. Their words are listed below: "there are no other clubs that are truly accessible and my son would miss out if this was not available. My older son went to lots of clubs and it's great for X to go to a club too. It's an activity we can talk to X about and enjoy watching him getting excited about taking part." "I enjoyed the break and so did my son. He loves singing and dancing with kids his age and if he didn't come, I would need to try to entertain him and that is hard as there are few closed safe environments he can visit" “X enjoyed the club as it’s very active and he needs that right now. He spends too much time on his iPad and I’m too old to run around in the way that he needs when playing. The clubs give us valuable respite and X a chance to try new things, socialise with his peers/new people outside school and to be with other adults is really helpful for him socially. X says SupERkids rocks”
The provision of over 4,000 hours of respite to parents and carers through attendance at SupERkids clubs.
SupERkids is run for children with support needs by parent and providing activities and respite is the only reason we exist. Our organisation is unusual with no paid administrative employees and no premises or associated overheads. When we defined the purpose of SupERkids, we wanted to ensure that the focus of the group was always to support the ASN kids in our community. SupERkids provided 5,429 respite hours to 105 carers over the 15 months of the project from Glee, Wee Glee, SupERSaturday Clubs.Most importantly, both kids and parents have a set period of respite that is scheduled on a weekly basis for a set period of time, and the only reason they will not run is when the facilities are unavailable. SupERkids have held these clubs for a number of years for many different children and one thing remains the same, the kids have a great time and learn new skills. They have time away from their parents at the weekend and socialise with their friends just like other kids.
It is vital that the opinions of parents/carers and kids are highlighted in the report - these are the people who benefit from the service. Their words are listed below: X’s attendance promotes independence from parents which helps him grow emotionally. Being able to spend time with our daughter is vital and having that time helped us understand and empathise with his autism and foibles which has helped the family as a whole.” X was a bit of a lone spirit however his interaction with others is amazing now and I put this down to fun and experiences with SupERkids! As a family, we love that X gets some time away from his family and gets to be with his friends without us constantly looking over him. It gives him independence that isn't always possible due to him not being aware of certain dangers. It has really helped X to develop and follow instructions in all areas, from general following rules to copying and replication actions (dancing and singing)” One of our SupERkids was shielding throughout the lockdown and her parents spoke to medical professionals and obtained agreement that she could come to the club, as it was with staff who understood how to deal with her complex medical condition. As there was a toddler at home, and no other support available, the Club was a great help to her and her family. Her mum emailed the following: “This year has been beyond challenging as we had no support and was in a bubble and the ray of sunshine this year was the wonderful days out and clubs that X got to attend as it has given her a fuller life and experience new and exciting opportunities that sadly we cannot do with her as her behaviour is very different for us.”
Positive feedback from parents, especially those in greatest need. We would expect to receive similar feedback from this program in the future.
Disability does not discriminate and many families with disabled children experience financial hardship as well as fewer opportunities for their career and their other children. As many carers still work from home, having time when your caring responsibilities are shared for a few hours has benefited many families. All activities were delivered without charge, a decision made by our trustees in April 2020. Removing any potential obstacle to participation may have been important to more families than usual. Surveys were sent to all families throughout the year to ensure that the activities provided were meeting the needs of the families and their young person. The feedback received was positive and it is vital to SupERkids that all activities provided meet the needs as its the only reason that we exist. If any activities are not working, we would change as soon as possible.
The most important objective of SupERkids is to make the kids happy and to give parents and carers some respite. Listed below are a couple of comments made by parents in response to their kids attendance at the clubs. Helping families and young people on a consistent basis each week provides routine and fun. X’s attendance promotes independence from parents which helps him grow emotionally. Being able to spend time with our daughter is vital and having that time helped us understand and empathise with his autism and foibles which has helped the family as a whole.” “Getting out the house is vital for my son. His behaviour deteriorates not getting out and he self harms. The club has a positive impact on the whole families mental health, and is invaluable to us as he can go somewhere where he is safe and they understand his condition.” “I am a single mum with three kids, and the clubs make a massive difference. X now feels that he has friends and a social life, he feels safe and included and it helps him gain independence from me. “my son attending the clubs helps his sister and allows us to have 1 to 1 time together, which has been impossible.” “X hates being at home. She shouts and screams at home so we are constantly out driving her or visiting relatives. It’s exhausting and there are no other clubs apart from SupERkids that we can send her to. X loves being at the clubs and it gives us a much-needed break”
The wider community and friends and family will see the young person with multiple support needs achieving through their performance and they will see them become more confident.
SupERkids provide activities where the kids with multiple support needs are supported by trained staff. This makes a huge difference as the staff know how to get the best from the kids and often the behaviour outside the home can be less challenging. Activities that other families take for granted is a lottery for families with a child with complex needs and kids are more accepting of new activities and places when they are with friends. The Glee performance showed family, friends, teachers as well as our MP, that you don't need to be able to walk or talk to be amazing and confident. SupERSaturday Clubs worked closely with the kids and on certain dates, they walked to the local Hungry Horse where lunch was bought and they had a great time as a group of friends. On other dates they wanted afternoon tea so they went to the nearby shops and bought what was needed! We have shown families and the community that with the right support the our kids deserve as much fun as they can.
Families with a child with multiple support needs live a very different life to other families as every little aspect of their life has to be organised. It can be very difficult to be in a new situation and certain aspects of the wider community can be tough to live with. However, allowing our SupERkids time to have activities and be involved in new places is important for both the kids and their families in the future. “X is happy to be with his peers and he gains so much more confidence as he is encouraged to socialise with his peers, with the help of staff. This helps with acceptance within the community and the time apart creates much needed respite time and allows me to charge my batteries. Being able to go to his club is extremely important during teenage years and “neurotypical” children want their own space and my son is no different." “I am a single mum and X attending his clubs allows me to have vital one to one time with my daughter. It offers us respite and allows us to go to places that X may not be comfortable with.” "my son is very dependent on his Dad and I. His club encourages his independence and helps him see the world isn't all that scary" "my wife and I really need the respite and this really helps and also allows X to keep learning how to be around other adults and children in different settings" "the club has made a massive difference - X now feels he has friends and a social life"