Hand in Hand
A story by Girvan Youth Trust
We exceeded our target level of services and activities delivered with the creation of a new project worker post.
This gave us the resource to expand our one to one and literacy skills work as well as providing the following; Sunday evening club, afterschool workshops, leisure club, drama group, outings, outdoor activities and adventure holidays.
1. To provide an increase in social networking opportunities and services available for 30 young people with Additional Support Needs.
2. To support the Personal Development of the young people involved in the project through educational workshops and social activities.
3. To provide quality respite for 30 families and carers.
4. To improve the public attitude towards the historical, social and cultural barriers of exclusion for disabled or marginalised young people within the community. By supporting the integration of those young people within other local community groups and events.
Tip 1:Spend time building up close links with Social Work Services/Schools and other appropriate agencies. Its also important to build a good rapport with the young person and their families at the beginning of the project
Tip 2:Find a suitable venue for the activities you wish to provide and one which is easily accessible and disablity friendly.
Tip 3:Visit other organisations that are running something similar the information, support and advice they can give you is invaluable
Jordan is a 17 year old boy with Global developmental delay and has been part of Hand in Hand since it began in 2010. Jordan has always struggled with social interaction and has lacked confidence when it comes to taking part in activities and workshops, however as time has moved on Jordan has built up close bonds with the peer buddies and staff of Z1 and he has began putting himself forward for other opportunities within the Z1 Youth Bar. He now serves behind the bar at Hand in Hands Leisure Club and has also recently taken an active role DJing in our community music projects.
She expressed that "it is so good to see Owen getting excited to go to 'his' club, somewhere that he sees as his own, where he belongs".
In May 2012, Girvan Youth Trust went on an Outward Bound weekend to the Lake District - one of the young girls that attended the Calvert Trust had never stayed away over night with her friends. She also had never taken part in any of the previously planned ‘Hand in Hand’ outdoor activities.
This outdoor activity weekend was clearly a great experience for her. She took part in all of the activities and thoroughly enjoyed the time she had to socialise with her friends. The increase in her confidence over the weekend was apparent to all in the group. When asking her what she enjoyed most about the trip she said “Everything”. That young woman went on a boat for the first time at the Calvert Trust, 4 months later she joined a small group of us on our yachting weekend on the west coast of Scotland.
Mairi an 18 year old young carer has been attending Hand in Hand since it started in November 2010. Mairi always struggled socially which also caused behavioural issues, she was a very isolated young woman. It took a lot of time, space and support for Mairi to find a place where she was happy within the group. She attended many of our trips and outings which helped broaden her horizons and bond with other members of the group.
Mairi's parents always said she was a different girl when she returned home after being at Hand in Hand - happy and chatty. Now 3 years on Mairi has just started University in Paisley and is coping with the social side of student life as well as the education, she still comes along to Hand in Hand whenever she is home as she still sees the group as a large part of her life. Mairi's father agreed that the three years in which Mairi has attended Hand in Hand, offered her the opportunities and support to develop her social skills and confidence which is now helping her progress through the next stage of her life.
We have also given other organisations such as the 'Befriending Network South Ayrshire' advice and support as to how they can offer similar services.
So much so that many of the young people are now organising and delivering their own activities, including; dance competitions, games nights, treasure hunts and booking trips for the group.
Meeting informally on a regular basis with parents, we are also able to gain their perspective and an honest insight in to the development of our activity programme.
Invergarven provides the teaching staff and support staff for the club and we provide the peer buddies, youth friendly centre, and the creative workshops. Thus giving the staff of Invergarven the opportunity to work with children outwith the formal education structure.
Hand in Hand also works very closely with Girvan Academy - Peer Mentoring and Duke of Edinburgh groups. By working together with these groups we have been able to identify and encourage potential young people to become volunteer buddies with our project.
The support of the buddies is a vital part of the success of the activities, workshops and trips we provide. It also provides those young people with skills, confidence and a recognised award that will help them in their future careers and experiences.
On a canoeing trip at the Calvert Trust Rob the instructor said “I’ve never seen a group stay so closely together without being asked, they worked well together”.
Many of the young people with Learning Disabilities have now been attending the club for 3 years and they now assist and support some of the younger or newer members of the group. This is a demonstration of their individual growth and development.
We initially viewed this as a challenge however soon identified that many of the established group have now developed to a level where they are now able to buddy potential new members.
We work closely with parents of the young people to give us a better understanding of each individual young person and their background.
We provided relative training for staff and volunteers to increase their knowledge and understanding. The activities/workshops etc that we provide are appropriate to the young peoples needs, ages and abilities.
Opportunities that previously were non-existent in our locale. The support and training which we have also received through Better Breaks has been invaluable for our staff development.
Meeting with teaching staff at both of our local schools to gain information on the positive effects that the group is having on the individual young people.
We have one to one chats with parents/carers and informal group meetings to receive feedback from them.
Parents and the young people have completed questionnaires about their experiences.
Attendance records and session reports are completed.
We have taken photo's of activities and have a video diary from some of the young people.
We have also used the Comic Life Computer Package where the young people can use photos and words to tell there story about trips etc
All of the above methods mentioned have worked well for us to gain the overall picture as to the difference the group has been making.
Session reports, attendance records and questionnaires, are important to gauge the number of young people participating and to record activities taking place and the response received by the young people. However the opportunity to meet with parents, teaching staff and speaking to individual young people help to paint the picture of the overall effect Hand in Hand is having towards their life.