Holiday Playschemes for ages 5-19 Years Old
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited
We managed to provide 27 Glasgow children affected by severe disability with 2 sessions per week at our holiday playscheme.
The club ran for 8 weeks with 2 weeks at Easter, 5 weeks over the summer school break and finally 1 week in October. Without this funding none of these families would have had any support over the long school breaks.
What Holiday Playschemes for ages 5-19 Years Old did
Once again we found that very few Glasgow children were going to receive any outside funding to attend the Holiday Club. We had a wait list of about 21 children 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. There were at least 10 children who were unknown to us and individual visits and assessments had to be carried out. 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 2 children who needed 2-1 support.
The holiday programme allocated places by pre planning activities after discussion with the children and their families. This year we managed to find extra funding to hire transport to enhance the programme we offer. With the loss of the free 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 grim weather the young people attended swimming, soft play areas, farm visits, the chocolate factory, the science centre, RYZE trampoline park and the Glasgow tour bus. These are just a few of the activities. We also received funding to provide one major trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park at the end of the summer break.
The children met everyday at Netherton Community Centre and then proceeded to go in their groups for 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.
So during the day when we were on a walk near M&D's fun park I started to sing our names together and what we were doing such as: "F and Joe are on an adventure! F. and Joe are going on a walk!" He laughed every time I sang. After a few times of singing he started to join in at the end saying "an adventure" and "a walk". I had realised that he was more capable than we first thought.
I spoke to the team and told them about him saying different words through singing and that we should encourage this and encourage him in general with his speech. The staff were quite surprised as they hadn't heard him say things like this before. In Buddies we write communication sheets at the end of our shift for the parents/carers to read, this is to ensure the parents are aware of the different things the young person has done in their day at Buddies. Over a few weeks I had written all the new words that F had been saying and his mother was very pleased at how he was coming along.
Now F. can respond to questions, call people by their name, point out numbers and say them and his counting is coming along nicely. In fact he really enjoys counting and using his numbers. Compared to how he was when I first met him he has progressed massively and his parents are over the moon with this. His mother has even taken some of the communication sheets from Buddies to the school to try and encourage teachers to help him do the same.
I think Buddies has been a great help to F. and we continue to encourage him as much as we can with fun learning like writing letters and numbers in sand and singing. He still laughs or smiles when I sing "F. and Joe are on an adventure!"
Now, K has a very good relationship with all of our staff; takes an active part in group activities and interaction with her friends; and occasionally she will
even introduce herself to new people.
I believe this is due to K being able to attend our holiday club.
Although she can still have difficult days her behaviour has greatly improved. This is mainly due to being able to attend the holiday club and have a consistent service and to know the staff and other young people. She really enjoys taking part in activities and build relationship with staff and other young people.
She was able to participate in a small TV bit about Buddies. This included her getting beautifully dressed and having her hair styled by her mother. Mum wrote the most lovely card to all at Buddies thanking the staff 'for always being here for T and myself through our ups and downs'.
What Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited has learnedThere is no doubt that the fund made a huge difference to the families involved. It also helped boost the morale of the staff most of whom were deeply concerned about the numbers of Glasgow children who could not receive any help or support. It also meant we were able to do extra fundraising to get the transport needed and to provide some of the more expensive trips.
The most difficult challenge is trying to always ensure that trips meet the needs of everyone. Some places we attended presented difficulties for certain children particularly those with Autism who do not like busy places. We were able to change plans and split groups because we had better transport.
We have attracted more carers mainly by word of mouth from other parents as most of the children attend special schools and parents are a close group.
The holiday club is becoming a real life saver for families as most have had all their services either reduced or removed.
We are finding other ways of raising extra money needed for trips and outings but without this funding we could not have employed the numbers of staff needed and supported the numbers who came to us.