Outward Mobility short breaks pilot
A story by Upward Mobility Project
Our Outward Mobility Project piloted a short break service with an initial 15 adults with learning disabilities from Edinburgh and the Lothians. We aim to broaden our students’ experience, enabling them to access tailored activities engaging with nature and the outdoors. Through this service we also aim to provide a valuable window of respite for their carers.
What Outward Mobility short breaks pilot did
We asked for volunteers among our students and invited a few people along for the first two pilot trips. We invited people we knew would benefit most from a break, and those who we thought would make up a good group. We still need to experiment with this formula, some people felt excluded from the trip, and asked why they could not go.
Staffing for the trips was a mix of paid sessional staff and perhaps not surprisingly volunteers from salaried staff, the novelty of these trips will eventually wear off when we do them once a month though and we'll need to find a sustainable staffing model, but for the moment volunteer staff made more possible with the Shared Care Scotland Grant.
We planned the trips to be simple, but stretching, for the people who took them and to try a weekend respite for the carers and a week night trip to assess the difference. We chose the location based on a recommendation and knowing Loch Park had everything we needed and was competitively priced. So we packed the Upward Mobility Minibus and the two dates of 29th May and 5th September 15 people with a range of disabilities, including two people in wheelchairs, experienced a trip away to Loch Park, near Dufftown on the north Aberdeenshire coast.
We did boating, fishing, picnicking, nature walks, archery and went to the petting zoo and stayed in a lovely cottage perfect for our groups needs. We went to the Loch Park Music Festival and did an impromptu show of some of our songs. We traveled there in our new minibus. For some of us it was the first time away from home, and the first time our parents had not had us around, we bonded as a group and really helped each other out.
In May 2014 Jen was one of nine Upward Mobility students to take part in our Outward Mobility pilot. For Jen it was her first time away without Mum, who is also Jen’s carer. Jen enjoyed a rich range of activities and social encounters, with her favourite being “the barbeques and going to a mini music festival, watching everyone singing and being able to sing as a group.” Jen also loved working as a team, commenting “sometimes I don’t feel involved with things and I feel scared to be involved. I felt different on this trip though, I was happy to be involved with the team and felt safe.” Since getting back Jen has said she feels “more relaxed and confident,” saying “the trip helped me to become more mature and independent.” This increased sense of independence and self-confidence has had a significant positive impact on Jen’s holistic wellbeing. Upward Mobility would like to offer others like Jen similar meaningful and transformational opportunities.
“I feel more confident when I’m on my own. I feel I can do a lot more and I’m not as anxious when I’m on my own.”
“I feel that the trip has helped me be more confident to talk to people I normally wouldn’t talk to. This has surprised me a wee bit!”
When asked if there were other places they would like to visit, the individual replied: “Anywhere that Outward Mobility wants to go I want to go there too!”
“More confident, I helped with shopping to get food for the group. I also helped with setting the table and making spaghetti Bolognese!”
What Upward Mobility Project has learnedWe have learnt that group trips are of a social benefit for those who receive care even if the activities are less than anticipated. We had a much more limited palette of activities for the second trip due to it happening at the end of the season at the Loch Park destination, regardless the evaluations (including two students who went on both trips) were of the same positive level.
We also realised that we need to find a solution for staff costs, we were only able to keep the costs down due to salaried staff volunteering their time. sessional staff need to have a different pay structure for these trips to be viable. We've learnt that demand for these trips is high, and is likely to be sustained, again mostly due to the popularity of the social aspect of the trips. We also tried the second trip during the working week which we found gave a reduced benefit to the carers of the students who attend these trips, even if the students thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We need to experiment more with the duration and scheduling of the trips.