PlayPeace Out and About Too
A story by PlayPeace
Out and About Too enabled families of children and young people with additional support needs to take part in fun, family outings throughout the year to a variety of places. The subsidised outings included transport and destinations were shaped by families. An inclusive music festival was a highlight.
What PlayPeace Out and About Too did
We delivered 9 outings during school holiday periods, two outings in term time (On Sundays) and an additional 4 Bounce themed play sessions ( also term time). The outings took place to a variety of places: Troon beach, ten pin bowling, exclusive use of soft play for a Christmas party, Glasgow Science Centre being examples. The four additional Bounce sessions took place in Bellshill at a local venue we hired, on Thursday evenings, with bouncy castle and other play equipment available.
57 parent carers and 64 children and young people with additional support needs benefited from our project. Our number of participating families grew during the project, mainly by recommendation from other families, and also referrals from a community link worker attached to a GP practice, from the Neurodevelopmental Parent Support worker at Lanarkshire Carers Centre and from social work services. In this way we did not need to target participant families as this happened naturally, however we did increase our regular use of our public Facebook page to continue to build our profile during the project.
Success for us is best evidenced in the real time comments, photos and videos captured during and after the outings. We spend significant time planning our activities to ensure that the outings will meet the very diverse needs of the children and young people to give confidence to the carers that all eventualities are being thought of . We ensure appropriate toilet facilities, access to a quiet space is available. We bring along disabled toilet keys for outdoor places and provide basics depending on the outing such as picnic blankets, sun tan lotion, buckets and spades . We address the Better breaks priorities of complex needs and diversity ; many of our children and young people do have severe to profound learning disability and a number have multiple clinical and neurodevelopmental conditions. Carers sometimes have their own health considerations which we take into account if disclosed and find that a warm, peer supportive culture enhances the experience for families otherwise very isolated especially in school holiday periods.
What PlayPeace has learned
We have learned that we can adapt with more agility than we imagined during this project, as we reacted and responded to the different stages of the pandemic and resultant challenges. Being unable to recruit more volunteers for example, meant that we ensured more attention to detail and to pre-outing preparation to maximise the support offered to parents and children alike.
We learned that we could quickly develop new activities to utilise the budget and to enhance the offer to families by building a local partnership involving another voluntary organisation and a local business.
We also learned that it is possible to maintain the level of welcome and high quality services that we aim to achieve even as we scale up in numbers, by developing and modelling the values that underpin PlayPeace.
How PlayPeace has benefitted from the funding
This funding has enabled us to remobilise such an important aspect of our organisation: the outings programme is a key deliverable for us which contributes massively to families' sense of well being and belonging to our organisation. In turn this has strengthened and cemented our reputation locally as an organisation which is truly participant led, evidenced by being invited to feature as an exemplar at the Community Solutions online conference last year within the Children and Families category. We have continued to build our skills, knowledge and confidence as an organisation thanks to this funding and are very grateful for the support from Better Breaks.
Disabled children and young people will have opportunities to have fun, develop friendships and do activities they enjoy success ? 50 children and young people with complex additional needs will have had fun experiences and tried out new activities informed by them and their families
This outcome was fully achieved with 64 children and young people taking part in a wide variety of outings and experiences. We were able to offer a range of destinations, from snow tubing to ten pin bowling, from a Christmas party at a soft play centre exclusive for our families, to a Glasgow Science Centre outing. The Awakening Music Festival was a particular highlight as this was a unique disability friendly festival which was all of our children and young peoples' first time at a music event. The children and young people contributed to shaping the destinations via giving their views at our regular play sessions and in some cases being supported by their parents to choose symbols and pictures of where they would particularly like to go. Celebrating special times of year eg. Pumpkin picking at Halloween and the Christmas party, were carefully designed recognising that accessing commercial events is often overwhelming for children with complex needs. Friendships have blossomed too.
Mum and 2 children, son aged 8 with autism and his sister aged 11 who is a young carer in the family, joined us in the autumn 2021. They did not access any activities in the community prior to joining PlayPeace. The different needs of both children and the nervuousness and anxiety expertienced by her son in busy social situations coupled with sensory overload made accessing mainstream activities or commercial ones impossible. This caused a lot of anxiety for Mum too feeling extremely isolated. The family found out about PlayPeace via social media and quickly became involved in this project as well as our other services. Family outings with the group have meant that both siblings have enjoyed new activities such as snow tubing, and their first time in a soft play centre at Christmas for the party we held. Regular communication outwith the sessions to check in on the family have resulted in wonderful feed back. To quote mum " Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. My mum was happy to make a donation to PlayPeace. She's noticed the difference PlayPeace has made to our lives, feeling much less isolated. Thank you to you and all at PlayPeace for all you do." Mum has attended our parent support group and regularly seeks and provides support via the parent support Whatsapp. The latest quote from her text reflected the friendships now being made. " Thanks so much for thinking of the kids. I caught a couple of lovely moments today and its lovely to see all these connections being made. I'm feeling much less isolated and I know the kids are too."
40 parents and carers will have accessed regular opportunities to have a break from their caring roles by participating in a programme of enjoyable family outings
This outcome was achieved and exceeded as 66 parents or carers of children and young people with additional and complex needs took part in the programme of outings funded through this project. We are delighted to report that this includes dads and a few grandparents, as well as mums and the young carers we support. The opportunity to be part of a group outing and the confidence that this brings, means that families can more readily enjoy the experience. The children are happy to see their friends and the outings provide vital peer support for parents and carers, discovering new places but in a supported way . This support ranges from the very practical, such as another parent willing to supervise an extra child for a few minutes to allow a parent a toilet stop, or sharing information and stories, eg. how are you surviving the summer holidays! Families can relax together at the outings funded by this project which can be a rare luxury in challenging everyday circumstances.
Parent J has two autistic children aged 9 and 13 , the younger with additional clinical health conditions and is a lone parent. The contact with the childrens father is sporadic and often arrangements are cancelled at the eleventh hour. J also has caring responsibilities for her own father that includes shopping, cleaning and cooking as well as daily visits. She works part time and has no time to herself. The family attended a number of outings through this project throughout the year including the music festival and Thursday Bounce sessions. Attending these outings gave J the ability to meet with and chat to other parents, catching up and comparing the progress of the children, discovering who was at the same school as her older child and getting a simple treat such as a cup of tea made for her and to drink it whilst knowing the children were safe and in sight, has made a real difference to her. she and her younger child enjoyed going on the swings together at one outing which hasnt happened before, simply because others could keep an eye on her older child. .
40 parents or carers of children and young people with complex needs will report feeling more supported in their caring roles and be more aware of a range of support services
This outcome was wholly achieved and is evidenced by the frequent , usually daily, dialogue on the PlayPeace parent support whatsapp group which increased in numbers significantly alongside the number of member families during the last year. Parents and carers also provided anonymised feedback via a questionnaire which was issued in early March and sought to check in with member families on a range of questions connecting with "how are we (PlayPeace) doing? This included seeking feedback on the extent to which parents/carers felt supported in their caring roles. 94% of respondents said they felt better able to sustain their caring roles, either definitely or mostly. (6% sometimes) 100% of respondents reported feeling that parents at PlayPeace support each other. This feedback and the regular conversations held during the outings, often on the bus , reassure that parents and carers are benefitting from this support.
Parent with three children with additional support needs, two sons and a daughter, ages 7, 11 and 13. Each have different needs including autism, learning disability and the youngest high support needs including all personal care. During the last year the family accessed many of the outings offered through this project and the Thursday Bounce sessions regularly. The middle child has been bullied at school in the last year and Mum has sought support and information from other parents in navigating services such as educational psychology as well as CAHMS. Two of her three children attend mainstream schools and she is engaged in advocating for them to be placed more appropriately which is a long and very tiring process. The eldest child was recently confirmed as having a functional age of an infant and Mum was understandably devastated. The support from others was heartfelt and came in from many parents on the whatsapp chat but also followed up by private messages. Her response back on the page was "Thanks all for your kind words, I always kind of knew deep down that there was something (learning disability) there but never wanted to admit it to myself. I don't know what I'd do without this group"