A story by Upward Mobility
The Outward Mobility project provided breaks for young people with learning disabilities across Edinburgh and The Lothians.
These short breaks included day trips and trips away from home, to facilities such as Center Parcs. These afforded valuable respite breaks to carers and the people that they care for.
What Outward Mobility did
We delivered three day trips and three multi night breaks.
The day trips in May and June of 2019 included an outing to watch Hamilton vs St Johnstone football match. a trip to Craigmillar Castle, and an outing through to Glasgow Science Centre. 12 students in total took part in these day trips, benefiting 24 carers and family members.
Three multi night breaks took place in 2019, the first of which was a 4 day trip to Craig Tara in June. 5 students attended with 3 staff, and enjoyed a range of activities including archery, swimming, segways, and a disco. Students were able to try new health activities such as the segways, and they all got on well with one another. One staff member commented "stand out moments for Craig Tara were that all students were supportive of each other...and they made sure everyone was included whilst making decisions as a group each day."
The second trip to Center Parcs in September saw four staff take 6 students away for a long weekend. They took part in lots of activities and treats such as spa sessions and bowling, and this provided respite for over 14 family members/carers. One parent said that her daughter "enjoyed the trip immensely, it boosted her confidence a great deal, and she is eagerly awaiting more trip opportunities".
This trip provided respite for a young man who struggles to be away from home, who needs constant supervision, but the hard work and dedication of his team meant he had a successful break away and his parents could get some much needed rest. Mum said "it means more than you know...we haven't had a break away for 40 years and we went to London for a few nights ...well worth it just being able to do the normal things other people take for granted".
The third trip took place somewhere a little more local, at the glamping pods in Harvest Moon, near North Berwick. As these were not fully accessible, the target audience was more able and 4 young people took part. Again they were supported by three regular staff members, and they took part in visits to local centres such as the Museum of Flight and Tantallon Castle, as well as toasting marshmallows on the beach in the dark
What Upward Mobility has learned
As noted earlier, we started this project later than anticipated and had to ask for an extension, and learned for next time how we can deliver our short break service alongside the challenges facing us during a period of rapid development and growth in the wider project.
We learned that our students and families value overnight or breaks away from home more than day trips, as there are often no opportunities for them to do this. These overnights not only support carers, but importantly provide the young people with opportunities to grow and develop, to learn skills they need for their future - "it promotes her independence and makes her realise she can go places without us and have a really good time" ; "It helps her meet new people and make friends, widens her horizons" (parents).
We need to find other opportunities for funding of these short breaks, having relied upon Creative Breaks and Better Breaks funding for the past few years to allow us to deliver these trips.
How Upward Mobility has benefitted from the funding
Funding allowed us to continue to deliver our small but important programme of short breaks for our students. We cannot provide these breaks without this key funding, but as noted above need to explore other funding sources for the future.
Minimum of 50 carers will benefit from their child taking part in a break, and report that they feel less stressed due to having time to themselves.
Over fifty carers/parents benefited from the respite this project afforded them. We carried out evaluations to establish impact of these breaks on their lives, and several noted improvements in their well-being and physical and mental health.
B is a young man with complex needs, who lives at home with his parents. He needs consistency of staff, and a well planned trip which takes into account his unique needs. Knowing the trip was well planned and staffed with people knew made it "the best trip t date" for B and his family. Mum stressed that this trip was well researched and accessible for B, and the fact that she and her husband "hadn't had a trip away since having children" (and their eldest is over 40) shows how difficult it is for them to take time away. Mum and Dad took at trip away and had the chance to 'recharge batteries' and do the other "normal things others take for granted" which is key. Mum stated we "nailed it" and she wants "more of the same" to allow her and her husband time together whilst being confident in the care being given to B. The impact for both his carers was evident and they were both refreshed and relaxed having had the opportunity to have time to themselves.
53 carers in Edinburgh and the Lothian's will benefit from the project and enjoy respite available, helping them to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
The overall project afforded 56 respite opportunities to parents and carers of students who attend our service. Some parents received more than one opportunity for a break, therefore the total number of parents /carers who received this was 44. Only 5 of these parents had another form of respite in place, so for many this is their only break from caring during the year.
P is a young man with autism who lives at home with his parents. He attended the days out trips which afforded mum the opportunity "to do something I enjoy whilst knowing P is in safe hands and out enjoying himself. When P is away, I spend time seeing family or some quality time working in many garden". For this parent, having the chance to do 'normal' things out side of her caring role is important and she is supporting her son to work towards an eventual overnight trip away from home - "I think this would help build his confidence and teach him strategies to make simple day to day decisions without having to rely on me". His Mum stressed the importance of familiar staff to support her son, and of good communication well ahead of the trip, which was key for them both.
53 carers will have had time to take part in an event or activity that they would not otherwise have the time to do.
All beneficiaries who responded to our questions stated that they have the chance to do activities and 'normal things' that they would not otherwise have the time to do, had this respite not been in place
M is a young woman who lives at home with her mother, her main carer. She has complex physical and intellectual needs, and requires support 24 hrs a day, and rarely sleeps. This takes its toll on mum as her main carer, and the trips away from home are a vital part of her respite package which then enables her to continue to care for M. For mum, its about being able to see family, catch up with her partner, and meet friends - "the last trip I spent time on work, some time on domestic issues, but importantly spent time with my other daughter...and another day with one of my friends/bridesmaids". She feels the breaks are essential as they always have a lot going on and this allows them both the chance to relax, and seeing pictures of M so happy on the trips away is "always good for a mum to see".