A story by Upward Mobility
Outward Mobility is a short break service provided by Upward Mobility, offering support through workshops and residential trips as well as a wide range of activities for young people with disabilities.
It aims to increase independence, create opportunities, enhance social skills and provide new experiences for the young people we work with.
Outward Mobility also aims to develop relationships between carers and those they care for. Parents and carers benefit from getting a break from their care-giving role and have a chance to re-charge their batteries. Attendees are able to come home with great stories of their trip that they can share at home.
What Outward Mobility did
The short breaks are advertised through a newsletter and email update that goes out to parents/carers of service users of Upward Mobility. We also make announcements and discuss trips directly with the service users themselves during our regular student reviews. We have found that this has developed with service users recommending Outward Mobility to friends and carers in other services.
We have been in contact with other agencies to build ties and provide a greater range of opportunities to the young people and carers using Outward Mobility. Outside groups and social workers have been in touch asking about the trips and reserving places on the breaks most suitable for them. In the past 12 months we have offered 5 short breaks and 3 day trips and we have plans for new trips and a general expansion of the respite services we offer.
The multi-night breaks included, A trip to Paris, Low Port; Kielder, Harvest Moon in East Lothian and Mallaig. All of these trips are aimed at different groups and are built in response to feedback from young people and carers. The breaks are always evaluated and this process goes towards creating trips that offer more choice for those who have been on Outward Mobility trips before while still being open enough to welcome new participants.
So far we have offered a range of activities including Scottish Country Dancing, rock-climbing, canoeing, archery, nature walks, foreign breaks, cultural trips, zip-wires, steam train trips BBQ’s and quiz and movie nights. These activities have taken place at a range of locations throughout Scotland, ranging from Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland to Paris. The trips typically offer 1 or 2 two activities per day and are flexible enough to change depending on the needs of the service users.
Carers have been able to have respite time to take holidays for themselves and feel confident in the level of support and opportunities available to those they care for.
Carers have reported how participants have been energised by the trips and have put that enthusiasm into sharing stories at home and with other friends.
Outward Mobility arranged a multi-night trip to Low Port in Linlithgow in 2015 and Andrew and his parents had decided to try going along even though he hadn’t been away from home without his family before. Despite enjoying the activities Andrew’s anxieties meant he was unable to relax and became physically ill due to the stress of being without his family. Andrew felt guilty about this and that added to his anxiety. Outward Mobility staff reassured him but when it was clear he wouldn’t be able to continue they arranged for him to be picked up by his parents.
After talking over options with Andrew and his parents we decided to try and build up his confidence with a day trip. Andrew was initially unsure but, after support from staff and other students, he was able to go on a train (for the second time in his life) and ended up really enjoying his day. Andrew frequently talks about this trip and would like to go on more and maybe try overnight trips again in the future. Andrew now also makes frequent suggestions about possible future trips.
This change means that Andrew’s parents are now more likely to get respite in the future when he goes on trips. The whole family as well as staff at upward Mobility has also noticed an increase in the Andrew’s confidence.
Mark was kept up to date with Outward Mobility events and trips. One trip, a visit to Mallaig on the Harry Potter train, caught Mark’s attention and he asked for more information. The trip was small with a total of 6 people attending (including 2 staff). Mark knew the staff well and felt that he’d like to go along.
Mark was dropped off by his staff and was still a little anxious about going on the trip. Mark quickly relaxed and began to really enjoy the activities and especially socialising with his friends. A few weeks after coming back from the trip Mark and his support staff got in touch with Upward Mobility to discuss starting a new regular workshop. Mark currently only does one workshop a week but may take on more as time goes on.
John’s mum first contacted Upward Mobility 3 months before John was due to leave school. The family was under considerable stress as Mum, as a single parent, needed to work to support John and his siblings, and yet after John left school there was no obvious place for him to go during the day as there were no college places open to him and his prospects of getting a job were very poor.
Both John and his mum were very stressed and nervous when they first came to visit Upward Mobility, however became visibly more relaxed as they looked round the project and could see what was on offer. During the first month of John’s attendance, it was evident that John was struggling with the transition from school to Upward Mobility. As his mum had predicted, John would not socialise in his workshops or at break times. However, over time, with the support of staff, John began making friends with different students and his confidence grew visibly on a daily basis.
Over the course of two months John transformed into a student that was confident and in the words of one staff member was ‘quite the show man’ in Drama, Music and Dance workshops. With his newfound confidence, John, to his mum’s surprise, expressed an interest in attending a short glamping holiday with Upward Mobility. During the short break, John really enjoyed himself and his confidence in his own practical abilities (making a fire, cooking breakfast, go-karting, running alone a beach) really increased.
He also bonded really well with the other students and staff and the staff commented on how all of the students ‘looked out for each other’. John still talks about the trip as a real highlight of his time at Upward Mobility and he is very keen to repeat the trip. John’s mum has greater confidence in his increasing independence and the possibility of John eventually being able to live a more independent life.
What Upward Mobility has learnedAs with last year we found a lot of interest in trips but more and more people struggling to find funding. The Better Breaks funding meant that we were able to go ahead with trips that would otherwise be impossible. This has meant a lot to the families of students who were able to spend time on themselves and other family members and were better able to cope when their child returned from their trip.
Word of mouth recommendations has been very positive and we hope to build on it to create goodwill and a sense of ownership among the students. We can do this by keeping parents, students and carers involved in the evaluation and trip-building process. This should lead to more personalised trips and students feeling like they have a hand in providing new opportunities for others.
We have been more thorough in finding new participants this year. We now discuss Outward Mobility events in regular student reviews as well as in our newsletters and parent/carer Q&As. This has often lead to carers saying that they simply weren’t aware of Outward Mobility before. This has led to more interest and more demand for trips.
Unexpected costs have been a feature of the year as new regulations regarding support worker’s pay meant that our staff costs were higher than anticipated. We hope to address this by offering different kinds of trips and activities.