PAMIS Friendship Club
A story by PAMIS
We provided a PAMIS Friendship Club for families who care for a child or young person with profound and multiple learning disabilities. The club was held once a month on a Saturday with weekly sessions over the summer school holidays.
During the sessions we offered multi-sensory storytelling, crafts and music. We also held an afternoon Clay Club during the summer period. The focus of the club was fun and friendship for the whole family.
What PAMIS Friendship Club did
The PAMIS Friendship club was held in Kirkcaldy, Fife. We ran a total of 20 sessions, each session was 2 hours duration. The whole family were made to feel welcome at the club including siblings and extended family members. The main focus of the club was interactive multi-sensory stories, crafts and music. All activities were adapted to suit the needs of people with profound disabilities.
We also held an afternoon Clay Class for the same group of people. The club was mainly advertised through the PAMIS database/ Facebook page but we also highlighted the club to "special schools on Fife" and through our local authority contacts.
The project worked in partnership with Fife Council and we used their "Early Years Childcare Practitioners"to help us at the club. We were also very fortunate to have a mum and a young volunteer help out at the club.
PAMIS is currently training volunteer multi-sensory storytellers and recruiting more volunteers with a view to creating more clubs across PAMIS areas.
Moulding, rolling and shaping the clay can be strenuous for people with very profound disabilities. This activity encourages the use of fine motor skills and requires periods of concentration and new learning. Working with the clay seemed to have a therapeutic benefit for people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities.
Families told us repeatedly that it is usual for them to be able to access an activity that they can do as a whole family, carers said they loved this aspect of the club as improved the well being of the whole family. Carers said the club was respite despite needing to remain with the cared for person. Families said the club helped them to feel less isolated and more included.
What PAMIS has learnedIt takes time, the club has grown significantly in year 2 of the project. One of the key pieces of learning is to give things time to develop and grow. The Friendship Club has increased in popularity mainly through word of mouth, carers have recommended the club to other carers. The project has built up a solid reputation for activities that meet the needs of people with profound disabilities.
We engaged family carers in the design of the project and used a co-production approach which included carers, experienced childcare practitioners and artistic professionals with experience of learning disabilities. An example, be mindful of sustainability.
Sustainability is a major challenge when running projects based on short term funding. PAMIS took part in a Shared Care Scotland "Sustainability Think Tank". As a result of the work done in the Sustainability Think Tank the project now takes a more creative view of sustainability and is working on new ways to make the project viable into the future.
Challenge, Identifying gaps, The Friendship Club worked hard to keep the focus on families/carers who care for a child/ young person with Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities. However, it quickly became apparent that there is a significant gap for this type of club for carers of adults with Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities. One of the challenges has therefore been to keep the focus on the under twenty age group whilst recognising the gap for carers of adults.
Time and Patience, increased contact with new carers, as previously stated the popularity of this project grew quite significantly in year 2. Several "new " (new to PAMIS) carers/cared for children/young people came to the club in year 2 . This was on the recommendation of other carers. This then in turn resulted in new referrals to the PAMIS Family Support Service and greater numbers attending our other leisure events.