Holiday Club Respite
A story by SHIP
SHIP Holiday club supported young people (5-18yrs) with additional support needs, sensory & physical disabilities & their families. The clubs promoted social inclusion and life skills for the children while giving families get a well-needed break.
What Holiday Club Respite did
The holiday club respite ran April (2 weeks), Summer (5 weeks), October (1 week) and Christmas (6 days) in Perth for children and young people (5 - 18 years) with complex additional support needs. The session times were flexible to meet the needs of the children, young people and families (half-day – 3hour and full-day sessions – 6 hours). Children enjoyed park visits, drama, art, sensory play, sports, music, cooking and much more.
Whilst children were enjoying making friends and learning new skills, parents/carers and siblings were enjoying much-needed respite building strong family bonds. Families have described the service as a ‘lifeline’, they know their children are having fun and are well looked after, this allows them to relax and spend time doing things that can be very difficult otherwise i.e., daily household tasks, shopping, meet friends.
SHIP supported 145 children & young people and 435 carers within the project. Holiday club gave 10,212 over April, October and Xmas school holidays.
The children were supported by staff and volunteers. The volunteers were 14 years+ and were supported with their Duke of Edinburgh and Saltire Awards. The volunteers are put through a 6-week training program before they work with the young people. This opportunity gives the volunteers the knowledge and skills they require as well as life & work skills. The volunteers offer the children and young people a unique peer group and the children love being with them. We have been delighted to be able to support families throughout the holidays, allowing them to enjoy their free time.
What SHIP has learned
Targeting families most in need of support and Reaching out to and engaging with new families – We have built up strong working relationships with local schools and PKC inclusion team to reach as many families as possible that require help throughout the school holidays. This has helped us reach families that may have been unaware of our services ensuring that those most in need can access respite. We have regular contact with families throughout the year to build trusting relationships between us, the family and the young person.
When a new family registers with SHIP with firstly meet with the young person and family to get to know them and tell them about what we do. Together we book them into a session the family are encouraged to stay with the young person until they feel comfortable to leave. Some families have never had the opportunity to leave their children anywhere before and need to be confident they will be looked after well. We give regular updates throughout the day and call them after the session to get feedback. We have learnt from this processes that families and children are less anxious about using the service.
Project planning and budgeting - This has been a challenge over the last few years with changing guidance due to Covid and expectations of families. We have learnt that we need to be as flexible as possible with an understanding that we may need to get further funding or do specific fundraising events in the future. As guidance changed, we have had to be flexible in our planning of sessions to ensure that we were supplying as many sessions to families as possible is a safe way. We found ways of grouping the children together that seemed to suit the children, staff and volunteers better, which was a positive.
The children we were supporting over the last year have more complex behavioral and health needs which has require more training and higher staff ratios to meet the needs of the children attending. This has had a knock-on affect with budgeting meaning costing of the groups are higher.
This year SHIP was given money from the from the Scottish Government Covid fund ‘Get into Summer’. This allowed the summer holiday sessions to be given to families free of charge. However, this can not be carried forward to future clubs, parents will have a fee to pay although a greatly subsided one thanks to Better Breaks funding.
There has been an increase in PPE, cleaning and activities costs which has been hard to budget for. Over future projects we will need to try and budget for these increasing in costs.
Partnership working – to us that means working together with the young people, families, volunteers, staff, schools, local communities, local authority, social work, sporting facilities, NHS, other local charities, third sector family forums, funders to ensure we are providing meaningful support to families and young people. We have an open-door policy and have learnt that by including everyone in the planning, running and evaluating process they feel more supported and involved.
We are available to our families whenever they need us, this does not mean our normal working hours (9-5pm), this is when they are ready, possibly when the kids have gone to bed! By doing this we have built strong and meaningful relationships with our partners supporting families when they most need it.
How SHIP has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has allowed SHIP to continue to support families in Perth and Kinross through school holidays. Families have really struggled with social isolation and mental well-being once again this year. These clubs have been described by parents/carers as a ‘lifeline and feels like a family we have joined’ and without the support for Better breaks funding, this would not have been possible. With continued support, we are building our knowledge and skills which is allowing us to support more families within Perth and Kinross.
All 140 children will have enjoyed planned fun activities, made friends and accessed the local community.
We supported 145 families over the holiday clubs ensuring that the young people who attended had fun activities to participate in, spent time with their friends and visited the local parks. The children participated in active outdoor games, sensory play, Lego, story times, drama, dance sessions, yoga, sports, music and art. We had outside agencies coming in doing sessions for the children giving them unique experiences, such as Perth Theatre came to do a music concert (gig on a truck), Saints in the Community came to run football coaching, Jodo sessions, clowns and bouncy castles. The children enjoyed trips to local parks. The children and families were involved in the planning process of the clubs which meant that all activities were relevant to them. All the children reported they enjoyed seeing their friends, some made new friends, playing games and felt less isolated. Families stated that their children were relaxed and enjoyed spending times with friends over
‘In our family we dread school holidays. X does not cope well with a change of routine, which normally means lots of challenging behaviours, crying and loneliness. He doesn’t have friends in school he can just out and play with or play computer games with like my other child. We struggle to keep him entertained and in a routine he is happy with. Our house turns into chaos! We have been fortunate enough to have SHIP recommended to us and it has changed our lives. X loves his SHIP days, he has the days on a calendar so he knows what to expect. The routine keeps him happy and calm. When he is there he has one to one support and lots of organised activities. The staff send pictures through of what he has been doing with a note about his day. These pictures are great, partly because I love to see what's happening but also X is nonverbal so cannot tell us what he did. These pictures mean we can sit down with him, show them and ask questions. The staff and volunteers are so patient with him and let him to choose what he joins in with. He loves to be around other children and I see his confidence grow the more he goes. The only complaint I have is that we can not get more days but I can see why it is busy!’
We will have supported 420 parents/carers and siblings by giving them a break to enjoy life outside their caring role by offering flexible hours for holiday club.
We supported 435 parents/carers and siblings across the holiday clubs. 100% of families have given positive feedback, stating that SHIP Holiday clubs they have been given the opportunity to enjoy life outside their caring roles. Having a choice of half and full days gave them flexibility to do different activities while their child was at the Holiday club. This allowed them to plan activities around when they most required help. 10902 hours of holiday respite was provided throughout the year, this was over 2 x weeks April, 5 weeks Summer 1 x week in October and 6 days in Christmas holidays. 100% of families stated that the sessions improved their mental wellbeing and gave them some breathing space to relax, spend time with family & friends and do hobbies.
‘Over the holidays I can really struggle with looking after myself. My child takes up 24 hours a day and it can feel overwhelming sometimes. I love spending time with them but sometimes feel I just don’t have anytime to myself, even just to have a cup of tea. When X is at holiday club means I can take some time to do all the things I can not do when X is there. I can meet friends for a walk and talk about ‘normal’ things! X comes back tired and I know that they will sleep well which means I will sleep. That makes all the difference. My daughter gets to invite friends round knowing that they won’t be interrupted. These might seem little things but to us it makes all the difference to our family.’
Parents/carers will have been involved in the planning process to ensure they are receiving respite when most needed for their families.
All (435) carers and young carers benefited from having a well-run, reliable service to ensure they could have a break from their caring roles according to survey’s sent out at the end of every holiday club session. Carers felt that having somewhere they could trust to look after their child’s complex needs allowed them to relax and be more ready for their caring role. Families were all invited to monthly committee meetings giving them the opportunity to be involved in the planning and ask questions.
‘It has been a breath of fresh air to feel like I as a parent was being listened too. Before sessions were planned I received a questionnaire asking what we as a family are looking for Holiday Club sessions to look like, what activities, what times and dates best suited us. We didn’t get everything we asked for but the SHIP did explain if things were not possible, ie, overnight stays and running every day of the holidays. When my son was at the club we were fully kept informed which helped me to relax and take time out so I was ready for him coming home. He was more relaxed too which really helps. I had specific things I needed to happen for my son’s care that would help when he got home, this always happened and I am sure that wasn’t always easy as they were busy!’
The children and young people with disabilities will have experienced a wide variety of activities that will improve their life skills, social, emotional and physical well-being. The parents/carers and siblings will report less stress within their caring role
100% of families reported through, surveys, meetings and conversations have they felt less stress in their caring roles and their wellbeing improved. All the Children and young people have experienced a wide range of experiences that have helped them to learn life skills(cooking, gardening, art, music, communication, transitioning between activities & places, managing behaviour) and social, emotional and physical wellbeing skills(sports, yoga, taking turns, listening to others, making friends). These newly learned skills helped families' home lives as children are transferring those skills. These are leading to improved well-being for families, they are feeling less stressed and have more time to pursue hobbies. This has been evidenced by observations, conversations and surveys being sent to parents/carers.
Through surveys, families have stated that having a break allowed them to ‘have a break and engage with their other children and families, something that can be very hard to do when they are caring for someone with complex ASN.’ They also reported that they ‘were more relaxed knowing their children were in safe hands.’ ‘Having my daughter at SHIP has made a world of difference to us all. She loves going, she loves seeing her friends, she loves the activities, especially art and sensory, she loves to be listened to. When she first started she found being around others hard, she didn’t like having to follow instruction. Since she has been at SHIP she now can join in activities, sits and eats lunch with others and has people she enjoys being with. They really listen to her, let her make decisions and set boundaries that help her throughout her sessions. Now everywhere my daughter attends, school, home & SHIP, we all have the same strategies. X seems much calmer and feels safe knowing what to expect. This has helped us as a family because if she is happy we can all be happy, life feels less stressful now.’