Holiday Playschemes for Glasgow Children
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited
We ran holiday playschemes for children who are affected by a range of disabilities and have complex needs. There was a programme of activities and day trips available for the children.
This service offers children and families much needed respite and the opportunity to take part in new experiences and make positive friendships in a safe and nurturing environment.
What Holiday Playschemes for Glasgow Children did
We are a very unique service, organising holiday clubs for children during the school holidays. The holiday club caters to the diverse and unique needs of children with complex needs and addresses individual requirements directly. We promote health and wellbeing throughout our activities and are continually encouraging their independence and self-help skills.
The holiday clubs are based in Jordanhill and venture out to various places within the wider communities. This year we visited a variety of places like swimming facilities, Dynamic Earth, Heads of Ayr, Flip Out, Blair Drummond, Vikingar and Tag Active. We cater to all children and adapt all activities to age and stage of development so that they all can take part in the experiences.
We were fortunate enough through available funding to take on nine new children who have been on our waiting list. Some of these children were social work referrals and some families self-referred. There are shadow sessions arranged so the children can meet the staff and the staff can get to know the young person so that the transition into the holiday club is smooth.
Our holiday clubs are what bridges the long breaks that school holidays cause. Our project allows parents to go to work as normal. They also allow parents to spend time with their other children or do things they normally can’t do because of the level of support that their young person may need. The success of our project lies with the staff. We have a robust training programme and all of our staff are highly skilled so that they can provide the highest level of care possible.
The objective when planning any project is to always being aware and trying to anticipate the needs of all involved. As with all of our services remaining flexible is the key to a quality service. Whilst unexpected challenges arise we are always prepared to adapt and diversify any plans. Through staff reflective sessions, evaluations and parent/child feedback the holiday clubs are and remain a success. The project went to plan apart from a few organisational issues. We have since introduced measures to prevent these happening in the future.
What Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited has learned
We are constantly shocked at just how little support there is available to families. Though we already are well aware how much this project is needed the volume of people who say the same thing is staggering. 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.
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 our adult holiday clubs. Every year we get more and more requests. The same can be said for the evenings as the families put in enormous effort trying to plan out and structure extracurricular activities that would suit the high needs and complexities of their children, which is a tough task indeed at the best of times.
Holiday periods can also seem quite daunting and helpless as if it weren't for the holiday clubs then the young people would be stuck at home with little to no social outlets whatsoever. Parents/carers in some cases would have to give up employment to care for the children. This has 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 often miss out on having time with their own friends and having their own lives.
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 50 children and young people per day every day during the school holidays. There are always challenges which arise. For example finding funding is always a challenge.
We have been extremely fortunate to have been funded by the Better Breaks programme but finding funding for children particularly in Glasgow is extremely difficult. Children get almost no support except in very extreme cases and this shows no signs of changing. This is particularly worrying for the very near future. The restructuring of Glasgow City Council has left funding in limbo as changes to the Integrated Grant Fund are coming and social care budgets are getting stricter too.
Our passion is to help children 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 blessed 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 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 and parents/carers might have to give up work to carry out their caring duties. By receiving this 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 but 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 attend 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.
Children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to have fun, develop friendships and do activities they enjoy.
All children have had the opportunity to take part in a range of activities and new experiences that enhances their learning and gives them confidence building on their independence and social skills. They are surrounded by children their own age and have the opportunities to build positive relationships and form friendships with people that understand them. Even though most of the children use our other services we know their likes/dislikes and what activities they like taking part in we still fully encourage children to make choices and show them that their opinions are valued when planning activities. The reason that we are able to do this is because our project takes into consideration the needs of every child individually and we meticulously plan our holiday clubs around these needs.
G.A. is a fourteen year old boy with Down's Syndrome and has a bone anchored hearing aid due to a hearing impairment. G is one of our newest young people. His mum approached us in May of this year looking for support as they moved here from abroad. They have no friends or support and G has spent most of his life isolated because of this. With the Better Breaks funding we were able to offer this young man some sessions during the Summer and October Holiday Clubs. He was initially very shy and reserved, however with the support of his dedicated staff member and the opportunity to take part in activities he enjoyed G blossomed and came very much out of his shell. He went bowling, cycling at Free Wheels, swimming, trampolining at Flip Out and even very kindly helped us raise money in a sponsored walk. Hopefully the young man will continue to come to us in the future.
We will support at least 70 parents/carers to have quality time to themselves, time with their friends and with other siblings while their young people with complex disabilities take part in fun and rewarding activities.
Through the holiday club parents/carers are able to spend time with their other children (siblings) in an environment that doesn’t revolve around the needs of their child with complex needs. This gives them the opportunity to spend time and listen to their other children and simply providing them with the attention that they are crying out for but do not normally receive because their parents are preoccupied by their caring duties. This also give parents/carers time to go about their daily routines knowing that their young people are surrounded by experienced staff who help them live up to their potential and enable them to take part in activities that help them flourish.
O.C. is a 12 year old boy with A.S.D, PICA and suffers from asthma, anxiety and low moods. He lives with his mum, dad and younger brother. Due to his anxiety he is always apprehensive when he comes to us. However he begins to relax and shows more excitement when he sees his friends and the time comes to get on the bus and go enjoy their day together. He is a very talkative young man and is always telling his stories about his day when he comes back. It is not just O who enjoys the benefits the holiday club brings. His home life can be quite tense as he shares a room with his younger brother and can lash out at times towards him. Due to O having some days out with us O gets some space to express his own personality and his parents and his brother can spend time together alone with their own space too. The holiday clubs really help improve the well-being of the entire family.
The 70 parents/carers who received support for their young people will have time to do things other than caring. This will include being enabled to go to work, catch up with all the other tasks their lives require from them, meeting friends, going out together with siblings.
Being able to offer the children 2 days per week during the holiday clubs meant all of the parents/carers of these children could plan their lives outside of their caring roles. The children who receive direct support from us are well cared for and their parents and carers are confident in this knowledge. Having a child with complex needs really affects the whole family, so everyone from grandparents to cousins are affected when there is no support. 30 parents/carers were able to continue their work and careers and at least 20 young carers/siblings were able to spend time alone with their parents and even go out with their friends without having to be concerned that they would be called upon. Just as importantly however all the young people and parents/carers/siblings were able to relax and have some space away from each other.
W.L. is a nine year old boy with Global Developmental Delay. He was diagnosed at age 3 and now requires the support of two staff members at all times. He attends our Sunday Club and our holiday clubs. W lives with his mum who works for the local authority and his dad has retired to be a full-time parent. He also has an older brother who has Asperger's Syndrome. The family work very hard to be close and do things together and find appropriate activities for their sons whilst mum works full time also. The needs of their sons are difficult to cope with particularly during school holidays when routines change and are less consistent. Even though dad is always available it is an enormous strain to cope with two sons with complex needs and he needs a break particularly as his wife works. This is where the holiday clubs help to make a reality, W was able to come to us, people he knows and take part in activities that is meaningful to him with his friends. He is a very energetic boy so he gets more out of our more active days. He loves swimming, trampolining, cycling and even went to Our Dynamic Earth during the Summer. His family have benefited from our services for many years and may they continue to do so.
By the end of the holiday clubs we will have positive feedback from parents and carers and have stories of what the carers were able to do with the precious free time given to them.
Because of the nature of our work we speak with and see parents/carers on a daily basis. We are all very familiar with how much they can struggle with their caring duties. Whilst we work directly with children and young people we also take very much into consideration the needs of parents/carers to have a life outside of caring. Being able to see and speak to our families regularly we know that the holiday clubs offer them consistent and reliable support so that they can do other things. They know that their children are safe and happy and most importantly they can let go of their worries and concerns for a while.
The way the holiday clubs are structured means we see or speak to parents and carers almost everyday so we are all communicating effectively. Most of the time parents/carers just give us stories of how they spent their day just in conversations. Most of the stories they tell us are things that most people take for granted, doing shopping, medical appointments, decorating, carrying out errands, going to work, or just simply having some 'me' time e.g. going to hair salons, going out for lunch or even just relaxing and reading. Free time is valuable to absolutely everybody and without it life for carers can become much too strenuous to cope.