Playdays and Awaydays
A story by Achievement Bute
We provided inclusive mainland trips and play-days on Bute during school holidays, weekends & in-service days for families of children and young people with disabilities who live on Bute.
We also offered opportunities for older children with disabilities aged 14+ to do supported volunteering to develop confidence and skills as they move into adulthood.
What Playdays and Awaydays did
During school holidays and In-service days we organised at total of 13 minibus trips to mainland destinations chosen by the children we support. These included visits to Scotland Street School, Funworld, Dunoon, the Time Capsule, Strathclyde Park, Xscape, the National Museum of Rural Life, Kelburn Castle, Millport and Heads of Ayr Farm Park. Each trip lasted at least approximately 7 hours.
Over the winter period we held 10 playdays on the island each of which lasted between 3 and 4 hours. Again these events were planned with the children using their ideas and bringing to the island specialist instructors including Loop Theatre and IndepenDance.
We also provided a volunteer training programme in which our young volunteers (aged 14+) attended a series of training sessions including a 2-day team building trip, in which young people with disabilities participated alongside their non-disabled peers. Young people were also given opportunities to volunteer at a number of activities aimed at younger children. The volunteers gained Saltire Awards as part of the programme.
All of the families we regularly support were given information about the activities personally. In addition we sent out monthly newsletters and invited our local newspaper to cover each playday. Our newsletter was sent to parents directly as well as to all our local schools, health visitors and the children’s services department.
Our Volunteer Programme was publicised in our local school, with older volunteers delivering presentations to new recruits. Parents and carers have told us that during the short breaks they were able to relax, have time to catch up with friends, spend time with other family members, or do things they would not normally be able to do, such as spend a day on the mainland.
What Achievement Bute has learned
The biggest challenge has been the move to Self Directed Support, which has meant huge changes to the way small organisations like ours are funded.
By inviting the local paper to cover our play-day events we attracted new families. The paper did a full-page photo-story of each event and we think this has led to more new families approaching us for support- as they have seen that the activities are fun and inclusive.
Evaluation by questionnaire is not as effective as having regular informal contact and conversations with families in order to tailor the service to meet people’s needs.