Holiday Playschemes for Glasgow Children
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited
We provided places for 20 children who live in Glasgow to attend our holiday clubs. This provided families who have children with complex needs the opportunity to have some much-needed respite while their children were cared for and had fun with our experienced and well-trained staff.
What Holiday Playschemes for Glasgow Children did
We are a unique organisation running a large number of services for families affected by disability. Our school holiday project caters for the diverse and individual requirements for a range of children most of whom have complex needs. Each child is individually assessed so the programme produces a plan which meets their identified needs. As well has the important element of play and leisure we promote health and well-being through all the activities and continually encourage independence and self-help skills.
Demand for Glasgow places is very high and we try to offer as many young people as possible these funded places. There is a long wait list and families with no support except school are first to be offered places. After assessment and meeting the staff other children are then introduced to the club. Final numbers depend on level of support required due staff numbers. Staff training is vital and ongoing within Buddies. All staff gain from being inter changeable between services. Staff and young people discuss and plan venues.
We run a range of trips in the community. This year these included swimming, Rouken Glen Pottery, Our Dynamic Earth, Heads of Ayr, Flip Out, Blair Drummond, AirThrill, InflataNation and The Yard in Edinburgh. We also have indoor activities such as magicians and the animal man and there are special 1-1 indoor sessions for some complex children who find the longer trips difficult and challenging.
These clubs help preserve family routine. Our project allows some parents to work, others to spend time with their other children and do different things which their children affected by disability cannot access or cope with.
The objective when planning any project is to pre plan and research to anticipate the needs of all. Flexibility is the key to a quality service. Whilst unexpected challenges arise we are always prepared to adapt all plans. Through staff reflective sessions, evaluations and parent/child feedback the holiday clubs are successful.
What Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited has learned
As each year passes, we are constantly shocked at just how little support there is available to families with children affected by disability particularly within Glasgow. It is very concerning just how many requests we receive each year for the holiday clubs. Our waiting list has 45 children currently and shows no signs of slowing down.
There are so many similar stories from parents and carers saying that they can just about cope during term time because their young people have school and structure to their day. This becomes more serious with each passing year. One of the most common pieces of feedback we receive is that parents, whilst they are grateful to receive two sessions per week for their child they really do need more than that. The holiday club always brings new families to us and after the holidays they all want to try to find funding for our other services.
We work in partnership with a range of agencies. Local Carers’ Centres refer a great number of children who have no support at all, and whilst social work rarely fund children we get many referrals for all age groups. Even although they have no funding they do not hesitate to send families at risk and with high needs in the hope that we can help. We do our best but we are always oversubscribed.
Many families now self-refer as very few have ongoing social work input. The special schools in Glasgow also send families to us. Some special schools used to run short ‘holiday club respite’ but these have all stopped.
We aim to offer funded places to families who appear to be ‘at risk’ for a range of reasons. The main one being families who have no support except school and for them the long holidays is a very difficult time with some ending up with family breakdown. We also always have a few emergency situations where a parent is ill and a family needs urgent support.
Holiday periods always seem quite daunting and helpless as most young people would be stuck at home and indoors due their complex needs. Parents/carers in some cases would have to give up employment to care for the children. All of these things have a marked effect on siblings as they can also suffer as they sometimes end up being carers for their brother(s) or sister(s) and even parents and miss out on having time with their own friends and having their own lives. We do try to accommodate some siblings as they are able to be in group situations and really enjoy being on trips and outings.
We have also learned that no matter how many children and young people we are able to accommodate, there is never truly enough support. The volume of applications we receive from current users alone means we have ration out places to families. The picture really is that if we could we would have 60 children and young people per day every day during the school holidays. There are always challenges which arise the main one of course is finding funding for staff. Whilst our staff do a wonderful job in caring for our young people we never seem to have enough staff during holiday periods to meet the high levels of need. Due to the complex needs most young people the staff ratio is mainly 1-1 and that needs lots of funding.
We have been extremely fortunate to have been funded by the Better Breaks programme for many years but finding funding for children particularly in Glasgow is extremely difficult. Even though children previously funded have since grown into young adulthood and some have even been lucky enough to have been allocated budgets – it is a simple fact that there will always be children who need support and this will not change.
Children get almost no support from the statutory sector except in very extreme cases and this shows no signs of changing either. This is particularly worrying for the very near future. The restructuring of Glasgow City Council has left funding in limbo as the Integrated Grant Fund has closed and although we have applied for the new Glasgow Communities Fund we do not know what the future holds. Social care budgets are continually getting stricter too.
A significant amount of our time is spent trying to find funding for staff. BBC Children In Need have once again supported us with funding for two staff and we hope that other funders will see how important core staff are to looking after our families.
Our passion is to help all children and families who contact us and the only we way can do that is to find the money to run the services they so desperately need.
How Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited has benefitted from the funding
Our organisation has been extremely fortunate to have received funding from the Better Breaks Fund for many years. It has helped us bring a service to children and families who would otherwise get no support whatsoever. Our holiday clubs have run since 1995 and we learn something new each and every time. Without the funding in recent years, we would not have gained the skills, expertise and knowledge to level to the same extent that we have now. Furthermore, without this funding there would be a massive hole in the service provision in this city - children would be stuck at home languishing without any meaningful outlet to express themselves socially and parents/carers regularly have to give up work to carry out their caring duties. By receiving the funding we have brought 30-40 different children over the years into our family here, we have been able to bridge a huge gap that is extraordinarily difficult to fill. However, most importantly, we have continued to build and develop the skills and capacity to effectively make a difference to the lives of our children and their families. Through Shared Care Scotland, we took part in a Senior Managers’ Network where we have had the chance to meet other organisations throughout Scotland. We have been able to make partnerships and links with these organisations who provide services to carers/cared for children and adults and have the opportunity to support each other and share good practice. While we still have massive difficulty in finding on floor staff thanks to the funding we have received from the Better Breaks programme and C.I.N our reputation has grown as an excellent service provider. This is backed up by our Care Inspectorate report and we have managed to find funding for our senior staff team. This team is the key to a strong and enthusiastic organisation. The Robertson trust have part funded our service manager for three years and it is likely this will continue for another 2 years. The Scottish Government has funded an attainment post for the nursery which also helps other services. The Gannochy trust as also provided part funding for 3 years for our senior support worker. All of this continues to improve the overall development of the organisation. We hope to be able to continue to build on our growing strengths. We are hoping to apply to remain in our present premises where we be able to expand present services and introduce new services to meet the growing need we face on a daily basis.
16/20 Glasgow children were able to participate in the holiday clubs and had the opportunity to experience stimulating trips /outings with peers. This provided them the chance to have fun make new friends supporting our inclusive ethos with a strong climate of respect and trust.
All children involved have the opportunity to take part in a range of activities and new experiences which not only enhance their learning but offer them the chance to grow in confidence and build on their independence and social skills. They are surrounded daily by others their own age and have the opportunities to build positive relationships and friendships not just with their peers but the staff. Although some use our other services throughout the year and we know their likes/dislikes and what activities they enjoy we still fully encourage all to make choices and show that their opinions are valued when planning the programme. New children find out quite quickly which trips and outings they enjoy and making friends is a bonus to those used to isolation. This success follows from the ethos of the organisation which considers every child’s individual needs and offers the correct level of support to ensure success. The staff plan meticulously to make sure all needs are met.
LK is a young man with Autism and has attended Buddies’ holiday club for three years. He is highly energetic and requires a great deal of attention and support in order to channel this energy into taking part in activities that he enjoys. L has two brothers and his family really struggle to find activities that they can allow him to participate in because of the risks posed and the fact that community services aren’t equipped sufficiently to cater to his needs. Through the funding by Better Breaks we can offer more opportunities to L and open him up to new experiences and places that he would otherwise unable to attend because of the complexity of his needs. He was able to go swimming, Freewheels at Glasgow Green and trampolining. All these activities allowed L to express himself physically in a secure and safe manner and he always leaves us with a smile on his face.
All children have had the opportunity to be involved in a range of activities giving them the opportunity to express themselves and make choices. Parents/carers/siblings will have been given the opportunity to have time to themselves. Because of this they often see real change for the whole family.
During the holiday club parents/carers are able to spend time with their other children (siblings) in an environment which does not revolve around their child with complex needs. Immediately things are more relaxed because stress levels are lowered. This gives the opportunity to spend time to really listen to the needs of their other children. For many this is the most important thing the holiday club gives to the family. During this time they are able to respond directly to these needs by listening to the issues raised then to discuss as a family how they can perhaps introduce changes to their day to day lives which would include the sibling with complex needs. Small changes arising from these discussion often make huge differences to all even after the holiday club is over. The young people participating in the holiday club also benefit from participating in new experiences and developing some life skills and independence some of which can be transposed into their home life.
JMcH is a 5-year-old girl diagnosed with autism. She initially came to Buddies as part of our nursery provision and has grown up with us. J received her diagnosis whilst she was in the nursery. Her mother is a strong supporter of Buddies and has fund-raised for us twice in the past two years. J’s mother was very grateful for the support of the nursery staff and was delighted that J could continue to come to Buddies as part of our holiday clubs through the Better Breaks Fund. J is a very energetic, bright young lady who needs 1:1 support and enjoys active activities which the holiday club provides. However J’s mother has expressed a desire to go back to work and do other things but J is struggling with the school routine and therefore this prevents J’s mother from being able to do this. Furthermore her 17-year-old son (J’s brother) has just begun a job and also needs support. Because J is able to come to the holiday club and keep a stable routine J’s mum was able to work and was also support her elder son through his transition into employment. J is always so excited to come to Buddies and J’s mum is always happy seeing her daughter so happy so both she and her son can benefit from other life opportunities whilst J is with us. J was struggling at her mainstream after school and with the success of the holiday club she now attends our after school giving ongoing support to the whole family.
The 40+ parents, carers and siblings whose children participate in the clubs will have time to do things outside their caring role. This includes being able to meet friends, go out together or with other siblings. This also give the carers time to relax and look forward to seeing their child.
Being able to offer children 2 days per week during the holiday clubs meant all of the parents/carers could safely plan their lives outside of their caring roles. Knowing that their children who receive support from us are well cared for means that the rest of the family can share new and different experiences and have some family fun. Having a child with complex needs affects everyone including grandparents when there is no formal support. Grandparents also gain from a welcome break relaxing with the other family members. At least 40 parents/carers/siblings were able to do all sorts of different things such as meeting friends, going unusual trips and outings or even just relaxing doing nothing. One very important area of family support created by the holiday clubs comes when parents / carers bring and collect their children from the club. Meeting other parents with similar problems results in new friendships, sharing common experiences and introduces another level of support.
Y&T N are an 8-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl who are siblings who are able to attend Buddies’ holiday clubs through the Better Breaks Fund. Y has PDA and T has ADHD. Both of these children also came to our nursery when they were babies. Y struggled very much at first with school and faced many issues because of this. Y also expressed some behavioural issues when joining school. This has caused great stress to their mother and father and to their little sister. The mother and father have also recently gone through a divorce which has put great pressure on the family unit as a whole. Through the holiday clubs the mother and father were able to focus completely on their youngest child and gave her the much needed one to one attention she desired. They were all able to go out together and do things without having to be concerned about the risks and possible scenarios that could arise if their other two children were there. This is because the Better Breaks Fund enabled us to offer these two children places in our holiday club to participate in activities that they enjoy and do so safely supported by staff who know their needs. At the end of each session the family always greet each other so happily and are able to share happy stories about their different days.
Carers will be involved in their child’s progress and will have built good relationships and work collaboratively to provide the best possible outcomes. Carers will feel comfortable leaving their child in our care so they can go about their day knowing that their children are supported and nurtured
Because of the nature of our work we meet and speak to parents/carers on a daily basis. We also involve them in all aspects of their children’s care. With this strong personal involvement we are very aware of their daily struggle to cope with caring duties. It can be very emotional and draining .While our work is directly with children and young people we also take into consideration the need of parents/carers to have a life outside of caring. Being able to see and speak to our families regularly they confirm that the holiday clubs offer them consistent and reliable support. They know that their children are safe and happy and most importantly they can relax a little from their worries and concerns. The opportunity to relax is often taken for granted by other families with no extreme caring commitments. The relaxation the holiday club offers is greatly valued by our parents who continue to look forward to the next holiday club which is already oversubscribed.
DF is an 11-year-old boy with autism. He has been attending our after school for many years and now our holiday clubs (due to funding from Better Breaks). As this young man has grown up he has developed more challenging behaviours and his mum, dad and brother are struggling to cope and find new strategies to counteract these behaviours. His family work very closely with us and social work services have taken notice of this as he has now been allocated a budget for his after school and recently the he has taken part in our outreach program attending swimming lessons on Saturdays. However he has nothing during the school holidays as his swimming lessons stop and his budget doesn’t cover services outside of the school term. D loves coming to our after school twice per week and loves his swimming lessons and has built great relationships with our staff. However the holiday periods are even more challenging for D’s family because he has nothing to occupy his time and take up his energy. The family always request 5 days per week during the holiday clubs. Because we are one of the organisations lucky enough to receive support from the Better Breaks fund we can offer the young man two days per week so that D’s mum can have some time to herself to spend with her elder son and D’s dad can go to work. We also support this family by sending staff to pick him up in a taxi before the session so that mum has that little bit extra support that she so greatly needs. Hopefully we can continue to help D grow up and develop his skills and independence and reach his full potential.