Moray Big Kids Club
A story by Cornerstone Community Care
We provided wide ranging, fun, challenging indoor and outdoor activities for young people with multiple support needs.
The Service provided carers of young people with disabilities with regular short breaks during the 10 weeks of school holidays, providing quality respite periods for a full day.
What Moray Big Kids Club did
Cornerstone Big Kids Club provided a wide range of outdoor activities such as canoeing, abseiling, coasteering, bushcraft, as well as activities such as cinema trips, shopping and lunch out. Activities were chosen and planned by the young people and families with staff support and took place across Moray.
For the majority of the young people taking part they had involvement with the After School Clubs run by Cornerstone or were self refer by families, Social` Workers or a named person. To ensure that we are able to support multiple people who would not have these opportunities everyone was allocated several days each week and we are pleased to say we have never had to turn anyone away.
The club is operated throughout the school holidays, the project supported 23 young people and approx. 50 carers, the club was based in a local authority building, already used to operate existing play schemes for younger children and the after school clubs. Carers received regular short breaks to take part in activities of their choice, spent time with other family members and have a life out with their caring role.
The project was managed by a Service Manager and Team Leader. The team was made up of 2 core Support Workers and 3 regular relief support workers to ensure continuity. The pre-planning done with the children, the communication with other professionals supporting us and families and appropriate resources ensured that the Club ran smoothly.
We addressed 4 Better Breaks priorities across the project supporting disabled children with multiple support needs, allowing them to take part in sport and leisure activities helping with self-confidence, physical and emotional health as well as promoting independence and social life outside the home and supported transition stages. The Outdoor activities proved particularly successful and the young people’s involvement in the planning and organising also provided opportunities for developing life skills.
What Cornerstone Community Care has learned
Project planning and budgeting, the difficulty we have is that the funding allocation comes in just as the Easter start's and because of the time factor and the need to let our young people and their carers know in advance what we are going to be doing, we may sometimes have to tweak what we are going to do, or possible may have to think about the cost to carers.
Targeting families most in need of support as we are the only service in this area doing what we do with children who have a physical difficulty or learning difficulty. Over the course of the last 12 months we have had an increase in the referrals we have received for this service which can be difficult at times as to ensure that we meet the needs of those who are most in need we have had to look at reducing the number of days we can offer to those who attended other activities through different services.
Reaching out and engaging with new families as we are the only service in this area doing what we do with children who have a physical difficulty or learning difficulty. Whilst we have an established relationship with Social Services, and people hear through word of mouth from our current families. We are looking at promoting the service at local events and fundraisers with our staff team, but also the young people we support.
How Cornerstone Community Care has benefitted from the funding
The Better Breaks funding has allowed us to continue with this much needed and valued service and extend the length of the day to give our young people time to go further afield for new and more challenging activities, but equally give carers extended respite to enjoy and relax, either with other family members or by themselves. The types of exciting outdoor activities we can access as a group is definitely offering new challenges and risk benefit, and this is strengthening our service reputation as to the quality of care being offered and the opportunity for a positive experience for our young people at a time when, if not for us, they would be socially isolated in the school holidays.
We will provide at least twenty opportunities for the young people to take part in an activity within the community based on their interests but also with the addition of the opportunity for residential activities away from home.
We discussed potential activities with the young people and their families before the playscheme took place. This was achieved thorough group consultation and using visual aids to support effective communication and meeting with Outdoor Moray who support our outdoor activities. The young people were supported to express their interest in taking part in their chosen activity. Regular feedback from the young people and their families was collated to ascertain how engaging each activity activity was and area's for improvement. Staff 's knowledge on the young peoples social circle within the after school clubs was essential in ensuring contact remained during holidays.
One teenager taking part in the activities needs a high level of physical support. She has poor mobility and balance combined with delayed processing, and prior to our project, did not have any opportunities to ride a bike. Thankfully, with the help from our support staff and the hire of speciality adapted bikes, she was able to take part in a day of cycling around a purpose built track, on a bike with someone else. This had a huge effect both on her and her family, as it was very rewarding for both.
We will have successfully delivered activity based days for disabled children and young people, throughout the holiday periods, enabling both the children and their carers to have improved wellbeing.
Carers who look after disabled children & young people were able to have a well-earned period of respite. Caring for young people with disabilities is undoubtedly challenging in many ways and, over time, this can take its toll on the physical and mental wellbeing of the carers. Thanks to our service, the carers are able to make time for themselves or other people, whilst feeling safe in the knowledge that we are looking after their child/young person. In turn, the child and young person is experiencing excitement new activities, with friends, which stimulates them and improves their own physical and mental wellbeing.
One individual carer experiences significant levels of stress, and suffers from depression. This is due to the amount of responsibility she feels she has to look after her child with a disability as well as the other siblings. As a result of our service, she was about to look forward to and rely on consistent periods of respite from looking after the child who puts the most demand on her time. The carer said that she felt much better knowing that she could relax whilst we were taking care of her child, and because of the stimulating and active nature of our service, the child was sleeping much better at home too. This made things more settled.
For many full-time, unpaid carers, caring for someone with a disability takes up all of their time. This can prevent them from being able to enjoy other aspects of life. We aim to provide a reliable service, allowing carers to have some valuable free time.
We provided consistent, full day supported activities which allowed carers to have free time. Feedback from the carers tells us that they enjoyed having this free time and were able to spend it catching up on tasks/chores, spending time with other family members/partners etc, taking part in their own hobbies.
Many of the carers have other children as well as their disabled child. By using our service, they were able to spend quality time with their other children & family members. One particular carer has got significant health issues of their own, and by having some time without the responsibility of looking after their child, they were able to rest and improve their own health.
Our service will provide flexible and effective periods of respite for carers. This will enable carers to have some valuable time off, reducing the demands on their time and allowing them to sustain their caring roles.
All of the carers who used our service were able to have regular periods of respite of 6 hours, during what is usually a very busy time (school holidays). All of the carers reported that having the free time enabled them to get lots done that they wouldn't have otherwise. They also said that it gave them a necessary break from their usual responsibilities, meaning that they were then feeling refreshed, prepared and mentally fresh enough to maintain care for their children. They said that they felt we were helping them to manage their situation better and to maintain continuity.
One family who used our service were on the verge of family breakdown prior to accessing our service. The caring role they have for their child had taken its toll on them emotionally, and physically. However by providing them with periods of respite, during the day in school holidays (often the most difficult time for families with children who require support, and parents who must work), the parents were able to take short breaks from their caring role. This allowed them to spend quality time with their other children, friends, as well as having essential personal time in order to rejuvenate emotionally and physically. As a result, the situation at home became more stable and no longer at risk of breakdown.
Lots of children with disabilities are unable to take part in the activities which other children enjoy. As a result they can feel left out and isolated. We will run a service which enables everyone, regardless of disability, to enjoy a wide range of exciting and challenging activities.
Over the course of 10 weeks (Easter, Summer and October school holidays) we supported a group of 10-15 young teenagers to push their own limits by trying out a wide range of enthralling activities. We worked collaboratively with other organisations where specialist knowledge and equipment were required, and kept the families involved every step of the way so that they could feel relaxed about the risk enabling environment. These activities included (but there are plenty more!); canoeing, coasteering, rock climbing, swimming, cinema trips, shopping trips, lunches out, wildlife parks, cycling, surfing, egg rolling, treasure hunts, play parks, rock pooling, beach trips, bushcraft and woodland walks - the list goes on.
The majority of the teenagers we support live with learning disabilities, but often they also have a physical disability too. One such individual has very poor mobility as a result and is unable to ride a bike, however, her family told us that she used to love cycling and enjoys the sensation. We sourced a local charity who provide specially adapted bikes on a safe, closed circuit track. As a result, this teenager was able to go for a cycle for the first time in years and the joy it provided her was clear.