Glee, Wee Glee, and Sup-ER Saturday
A story by SupERkids
SupERkids provided drama, music, dance & friendship groups, where young people with multiple support needs develop self-confidence, express themselves & make friends. The clubs allow young people to have independent fun while their parents and siblings have a break from 24/7 caring responsibilities
What Glee, Wee Glee, and Sup-ER Saturday did
This project was ran for SupERkids, namely young people who have disabilities in East Renfrewshire. All the young people who attended our activities have multiple support needs and there are no other mainstream clubs within East Renfrewshire who would accept their unsupported attendance due to their care needs.
Young people with multiple support needs from age 10 attended the Glee Club – a drama based group. They attend the Club every Saturday, rehearse and have fun and finally put on a show in a theatre in front of their family and friends.
Wee Glee and Music club were merged into Monday Club, which focused initially on music and dance. Two sessions were provided each Monday - the earlier session for primary aged children and the later session for Secondary aged young people. In addition to music and dance, Cooking, Sign and Sing sessions and silent disco sessions were also incorporated.
We asked young people and their parents for feedback and they all stated that they would like more activities at the weekend. SupERkids listened and established SupERSaturday Club in the morning for younger kids from 9.15-10.45am, followed by the Glee Club from 11am-1pm. SupERSaturday Club for the older teenage friendship group followed from 1.30-3.30pm and once a month until 4pm where they would go out to lunch or to the mall.
Music and drama were not for everyone: To bridge this service gap (particularly older teenagers, we provided a friendship groups Cooking on Mondays and SupERSaturdays, which are themed clubs set up for the kids who want a weekend activity but don’t want performance themed activities.
What SupERkids has learned
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 and by focusing on the outcomes for our beneficiaries rather than the activities we have historically undertaken, we have adopted the service provisions 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 desperately needed respite.
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 in recent times, 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.
This year, we decided that Wee Glee needed to be revamped. Monday Club was the result with the activity focus changing every 6-8 weeks, including dance, cooking, sign and sing, and music. This was very time consuming in terms of development and implementation but worthwhile as it had great responses from beneficiaries.
Our thanks to the Better Breaks fund and Shared Care Scotland for allowing us to be flexible and provide these much needed services.
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 the clubs.
This year, with much adaptation, we delivered 88% of our plan. 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 gave Wee Glee a "glow up" and renamed it Monday Club where it was organised with different dance, music and creative clubs on a 6 week cycle. We ran 23 Glee, 42 SupERSaturday Clubs, 1 TOTs event as well as 22 Monday 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. SupERkids have never turned away a child from a club as we know as parents that it is often the families that need support that are most in need for both carer and child. Watching the kids blossom with confidence is a gift and the social interaction was enjoyed.
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. Some of their words are listed below: “Just wanted to say how much X is enjoying Glee sessions on a Saturday morning. She is always excited to go and is buzzing and full of energy when we pick her up. I’m sure the singing and dancing sessions and practice are making a huge contribution to her confidence and she is speaking more and more, and singing too in the back of the car! "X loves coming to Monday club. The best part if that she developing her networking with other children and adults. It gives her more independence and this was a major goal for me this year. The service has been a lifeline for our family. X has no other social group she can join safely. Knowing we have somewhere safe to send her supported by well trained, caring and compassionate staff makes all the difference to us. We use the time that X is at the club to have a break from the 100% parental supervision" "Thanks to the team for making X so welcome at dance club. He enjoys being whirled around in his chair!"
The provision of up to 4,000 hours of respite to parents and carers.
SupERkids is run for children with support needs by parents 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 4668 respite hours to 126 carers over the 9 months of the project from Glee, Monday & 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. We ran 23 Glee, 22 Monday clubs over the funding period and 42 SupERSaturday events and TOTs Saturday morning.
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: "It’s really good for X to have time apart from me as we are together all of the time. I am a teacher so unless we are at school we’re together." Another parent described her respite as “guilt free me time” "The clubs make a huge difference to X. My wife and I do so much caring and supporting and its exhausting at times. It’s so great he can go and receive support. He gets excited going and he has made a new friend ! It has a positive impact on his interaction skills and confidence as he doesn’t get out as much as we would like." "X loves music and anything to do with it. The club is the perfect opportunity for him to combine his love of music with having fun and spending time with his friends. Knowing that X is doing something that he loves, while being cared for by staff who know him well, allows us to relax. It's a win win situation!"
Positive feedback from parents. 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. Surveys were sent to all families throughout the year to ensure that the activities provided were meeting the needs of the families. We ran 23 Glee, 22 Monday clubs over the funding period and 42 SupERSaturday events and 1 TOTs Saturday morning.
The most important objective of SupERkids is to make the kids happy and to give parents and carers some respite. I have listed below 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. "The Glee Club has been a regular part of our life and much needed routine. X will tell me how she will get to see her friends to have fun and when is it Saturday!!! From a parent’s perspective, Glee offers much more to our extra special kids. It brings lasting friendships, a safe place to be themselves, staff who care for them in so many ways you would never know and activities that brings the best out in them and a chance to try/watch drama and have fun at home learning about the show they are participating in. We can’t thank you enough for what it continues to offer our extra special kids." "Glee club has been fantastic for X social skills. There is not a-lot for X to do outside school and this offers X the ability to enjoy the company of her peers. It also improves her confidence and helps with her speech."
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 of "we're all in this together" 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. We ran 23 Glee, 22 Monday clubs over the funding period and 42 SupERSaturday events and 1 SupERTots Saturday event.
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. The SupERsaturday club allowed SupERkids to come together on a Saturday morning (primary age) and in the afternoon (older group). Friendship groups were made and when possible, the kids went out in the community for lunch or one SupERkid was desperate to swim! Being able to enable kids with multiple support needs to have a social life at the weekend and to have fun independently is at the centre of the ethos of SupERkids and we are so grateful to the Better Breaks Fund that enabled us to provide these clubs and the parents with respite. One family discussed the impact that Glee Club had on their son. "We are parents to a non verbal autistic son who is very rigid in what he likes and dislikes. On a Saturday morning, X skips into the club to be greeted by the staff who know him and he spends the next 2 hours joining in with friends in activities that he enjoys. It is a calm and happy environment and we reap the benefit of that when we pick him up with a big smile on his face."