Holiday Play Schemes for Glasgow Children
A story by Buddies Clubs and Sevices
We provided places for children living in Glasgow to attend our holiday playscheme’s over a period of 8 weeks through the Easter, Summer and October School Holidays.
This has given families who have children with complex needs the opportunity to have some much needed respite while their young people were looked after in a safe, caring and stimulating environment.
Without this funding none of these families would have had any support over the long school breaks. Most have no other support apart from school.
What Holiday Play Schemes for Glasgow Children did
Once again we found that children in Glasgow were not going to receive any outside funding to attend our Holiday Club. We had a wait list and as soon as funding was granted more children were referred by carer groups and of course social work who had no budget to support families in stress. The club is organised around the needs of the individual children. The club only works if the children receive the identified level of support.
Most of the children required 1-1 support but a few could fit into groups. There were also 5 children who needed 2-1 support. We could not offer the requested number of places to most people because of the extremely high demand we have had this year and we anticipate the same problems next year due to the lack of children's services available.
The holiday programme allocated places by pre-planning activities after feedback from the children and their families. This year we have been able to work with the local authority to provide transport. This was essential as many of the young people particularly those with Autism find a 6 hour session in doors very challenging and this creates great stress for all. Despite the predominantly grim weather the young people attended various swimming facilities, soft play areas, farm visits, Blair Drummond Safari Park, the Science Centre, RYZE trampoline park, AirSpace, the Glasgow tour bus, the Climbing Academy, the SeaLife centre, parks, beaches and cinemas. These are just a few of the activities we offer on our holiday programmes.
The children met everyday at Netherton Community Centre and the proceed to go in their groups to the pre-arranged activities. The staff always have daily pre-briefing and debriefing sessions to check individual children's needs before trips and assess success or difficulties which have arisen over the day. Staff also provide daily observation sheets for internal use and communication sheets for non-verbal children. All parents have time to chat to staff before and after the daily service. Most carers found they were able to spend quality time with other siblings and even opportunities to meet their own friends! On good weather days some carers had outings themselves.
When he came back he was encouraged to choose more active and outdoor activities. This ability to choose gave him more independence and his behaviour started to improve. S.B does not hit out anymore and his swearing has been reduced drastically.
His family have noticed a big change in his behaviour at home and more willingness to choose activities rather than just watch T.V.
He said recently that he really enjoys coming to Buddies now and we are hoping to find some funding to have him return to after school and hopefully holiday club next year.
I first met J.M over two years ago. J.M gets on well with everyone at Buddies and enjoyed coming regularly to the services. At Buddies J.M was able to socialise with his peers and be able to express his own ideas and interests in order to build up his confidence and self-esteem. However with cuts in funding he was no longer able to attend his after school sessions. We were however able to offer him the Holiday Club due to Better Breaks funding.
At the last holiday club he was really happy to be there and told the staff how much he was missing coming to Buddies. He also said he hoped he could come back regularly. His family says Buddies is his only social outlet and he loves coming. J.M still gets a lot of socialisation out of the holiday clubs as it allows him to see friends whom he does not regularly see.
This helped staff to find appropriate trips and outings which could meet his needs and reduce his challenging behaviour. R has enjoyed the trips in play scheme and has made positive relationships, both with the staff and the other children. It is hoped that funding will be found so he can continue to benefit from the Holiday club.
Buddies also collected M on the day of her father’s funeral and gave extra time with staff on that day. M has discussed her emotions regarding her father’s death with staff and has said that this has helped her to feel better. She still talks to the staff about her father and is finding the support given very helpful.M’s mother is deeply grateful for the on-going support she has received from Buddies.
What Buddies Clubs and Sevices has learnedWe continue to learn how valuable the holiday clubs are. Parents and carers constantly say that they 'sort' of cope during term time since their young people have school and structure to their day. The holiday times however seem endless and very difficult without social outlets for the young people. Siblings also suffer as they end up being carers for their brother or sister and often miss out on having time with their own friends. The Better Breaks fund has changed the lives of all the families who are lucky enough to benefit.
There are always unexpected challenges as young people who have had no support and been totally isolated can find it difficult to settle. However the pre planning and meetings with families help as the children already know the staff before they arrive for days out. New carers are being referred from a range of carers groups and the special schools. Foster parents are also coming along and really benefit from meeting other families. Since most families of young children now receive NO services parents often have to be encouraged to let their young people join in and make friends.