PASDA Social Group
A story by PASDA
We provided a monthly social activity service for parents, partners and family carers of adults on the autism spectrum.
Our Pasda Social Group provided carers with the opportunity to meet other carers on trips out, enjoy meals together, and take part in a variety of leisure activities.
What PASDA Social Group did
When Pasda was awarded the Creative Breaks Service Development Fund grant to run a monthly social activity service for parents, partners and family carers of adults on the autism spectrum. We contacted all our carers to tell them the good news about the project, how we planned on running our social group, and asked them for suggestions of monthly social activity outings they felt they would enjoy and would like to take part in.
Next, from the responses received, a programme of monthly outings and activities was put together then advertised via our website and in our newsletter and also via emails sent to all our carers inviting them to attend. Trips out took place across Edinburgh and the Lothians, and included theatre outings, for example, Wicked! at The Edinburgh Playhouse, visits to places of historical interest, Roslyn Chapel, Gilmerton Coves, Camera Obscura, guided tours of the Scottish Parliament, The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick and The Kelpies in Falkirk. We attended the six nations rugby match between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield, a boat trip around the Bass Rock, and meals out together.
We recruited an events volunteer who accompanied and supported carers on monthly social activity outings. 77 carers have accepted the opportunity offered to enjoy a life outside of their caring role, meeting other carers in stress-free circumstances where they can relax and unwind from the anxieties they regularly experience as carers of autistic adults. 49 of the 77 carers came along to more than one activity, and 20 of those 49 carers attended four or more times.
Trips out together lasted typically four or five hours and tended to take place at weekends although some of the activities took place during midweek evenings. The most popular outing was going to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the Festival Theatre, which attracted 17 carers. On average about 10 carers attended each activity. From feedback received, the most popular trips combined an outing to a place carers wanted to visit followed by socialising with each other over a snack and a hot drink, when they got the chance to enjoy each other's company.
"…I love being in the company of like minded carers…Great to speak with people who are on your wavelength." "Getting out of the house and meeting new company." "…nice to meet up with other carers." "Really good also to see familiar faces and chat with other carers." "…being with other carers but also seeing kelpies and being inside one of them."
"I liked the combination of something interesting to do and a chance to socialise in the café." "It had everything: social gathering, entertainment, shared eating (my favourite)." "Excellent day in superb company." "I would definitely give a 10 / 10 for making me feel welcome to the group." "The outing was relaxing and being with others who have an understanding of autism helps."
"It was fab. It was good to get out and about with other carers." "It was good to get out for the day, we are always going to do it, but get caught up in the kids' routines. Seeing a planned activity spurred us to make the effort, it was nice to meet people with older family with ASD, we all seemed to be enjoying the moment."
"I really loved the exhilaration of the boat trip. Fantastic. Would do it again definitely." "Enjoyed seeing The Kelpies having not had the opportunity to go before, and not very likely to without Pasda." "The trip to Rosslyn Chapel was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would give it 10 out of 10! It was lovely to have a cuppa and a goodie afterwards as well." "10/10!! It was a lovely afternoon out." "…thanks for trip to Seabird Centre, was really good fun and great to get out of Edinburgh!"
"Yes very much so." "…was nice to go somewhere ourselves without [caree]." "Days out like this are a lifeline for me." "yes did give me relaxing time away from my caring role."
"I don't usually get to do outings without my family…being involved with other carers means that I can feel that I don't need to feel that I am alone."
What PASDA has learnedThrough the funding PASDA has learned more about the importance of the social aspects of short breaks, and how the activity provided acts as the catalyst for carers to get together and enjoy each other's company.
We have also learned about the tremendous joy which carers experience eating together, although this then leads to the challenge of finding cafes close by to activity centres which can accommodate large groups at busy times! We have also learned that, where possible, carers will support each other in getting to outings, for example, through offering lifts or travelling together by bus.